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Valley 8th grade student raises money for Salvation Army

Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 20:49:38-04

PHOENIX — A penny saved is a penny earned. One Valley school is putting that saying to the test thanks to an ambitious eighth grade student named Diego Salas.

"I intend to raise at least a hundred dollars," said Diego.

For Diego's eighth grade capstone project, a final assignment focused on service, he came to his teacher with a rather bold statement.

"When he walked in, the very first thing he said was I want to learn and be a selfless hero," said Cheryl Johnson.

Together they came up with an idea for a campus wide penny drive. Pitting grade levels against each other to raise the most money.

"I added a twist to help raise more money," said Diego.

Students at Bennett Academy in Phoenix could sabotage other classrooms donations by putting in coins that aren't pennies, and those would subtract from their total count. So a quarter would actually set the class' total count back 25 pennies.

"Each morning all the little kids would go around the classrooms and sabotage other classrooms," said Diego.

While it impacted which grade won the contest, in the end it just meant there’d be more to give away. Diego chose the Salvation Army as the recipients.

“Whoever’s in need, we want to be there to help them, whether it’s food insecurity, housing insecurity,” said Lt. Col. Ivan Wild with the Salvation Army.

When he arrived to pick up the donation, the school had raised more than $600. A donation not only making a real difference but proving the true power of a penny.

“Cumulatively, it came to $600, again that’s 400 hundred meals for people we serve, over 20 nights of lodging, that’s significant,” said Wild.

Through it all, Diego showed himself and his classmates they can all be selfless heroes.