Lab School “Penny Wars” benefit South End Children’s Cafe

Hearing the term shortage seems to be a daily occurrence during the pandemic. With businesses making purchases as touchless as possible these days, another unfortunate shortage related to the pandemic is the lack of coins in circulation.  

The BC Lab School (a small, rigorous progressive program at BCHS) decided to make use of their mounting coin piles collecting on their dressers by hosting a fun competition known as a Penny War. Traditionally used for fundraisers, the concept was to pit each of the four classes (9-12) against one another and attempt to raise funds to help a local charity which they normally spend a great deal of time helping in-person, but have been unable to in the past year and a half due to the pandemic.

“During the season of giving, it was fun to see how students could contribute something to their community, even in small denominations. Having them choose to donate proceeds to the South End Children’s Cafe seemed appropriate since many already volunteer there and could see where their donations went,” says Dave Lendrum, coordinator of the Lab School program.

The South End Children’s Cafe has a mission to help address food security issues and inequalities which impact inner-city youth. The concept is that during after-school hours, students can come in and get a healthy snack, and assistance with their homework, exercise, and participate in the arts. The Lab School has a long history of sending volunteers to the Cafe.

What made the Penny Wars so much fun was that money that was donated in the form of bills or pennies was used to add points to a team’s total. Silver coins such as nickels, dimes, and quarters were used to deduct points from a group’s total. In the end, the class of 2025 (freshmen) reigned supreme amassing 21,998 points ($424.89). The class of 2024 (sophomores) was second with 7,615 points ($240.90). In total, the Lab School raised $848.77 which included 9,512 pennies.

Freshman Nathaniel Menia made a significant contribution, which involved a hefty donation of pennies from his own personal coin jar at home. “I had thousands of pennies just sitting in my bedroom and I thought, why not empty these out and help my classmates win?” The video of his personal donation can be seen below.

Lab School’s donation is being used to help purchase food for students who come into the Cafe this winter.

To learn more about The South End Children’s Cafe, visit: