HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of students at River Oaks Elementary School in Harrison County are working to help devastated storm victims in Hattiesburg and Petal through a program called "Pennies for Petal."
Five-year-old Gavin Ardis is one of the students taking part. He proudly showed off a box with more than 10,000 pennies he donated to the cause. "I brought them for people who lost their houses and their churches are schools," said Ardis.
And he's not the only one reaching deep into his pockets to help out our neighbors to the north.
"We donated a bunch of pennies and change that we had around the house and cash that we didn't need. And then we cashed them in for a bunch of goods that we could use for 'Pennies for Petal,'" said River Oaks Beta Club member Keaton Snell.
Snell and fellow Beta Club members decided to cash in their pennies for supplies, which will be delivered to Petal this weekend. "Some people have lost everything and we just wanted to give them stuff that we know they have a lost in the tornadoes," said Beta Club member Genesis Aguilera.
So far nearly $400 has been collected in the fundraiser. Second-grade teacher Rebecca Wetzel said it's just a testament of the good that lies within these special students.
"So many people helped us during Hurricane Katrina, so it's time for us to pay back our fellow communities around us. The kids at the school are so giving. They really want to give back to the community," said Wetzel.
"You see people on the side of the street, they don't have anything and sometimes you want to give back to them. And this way it makes me feel great to give back to them because that means I'm actually doing something for my community," said Beta Club member Kyla Newman.
The fundraiser isn't limited to students and faculty. If you'd like to help by donating to the "Pennies for Petal" campaign, you may drop off a donation at River Oak Elementary or any other Harrison County Public School before February 3.
Papa John's Pizza will also hold a spirit day on Tuesday, January 31 to raise funds for the campaign. The business will offer a 20 percent discount on all regular-priced menu items and donate 20 percent to the "Pennies for Petal" fundraiser.