‘Pennies for Pre-Schoolers’ teaches saving
As national leaders deal with the unenviable task of rebuilding a failing economy and recovering the trust of the American people, St. Mary Community Action Agency is doing its part of recharging the local economy by teaching the littlest people how to save for the duration of their lives.
Thus is the mindset of the agency’s newest project, Pennies for Pre-Schoolers.
Starting at the pre-K level, St. Mary CAA Head Start wants young students and their families to actually live the lifelong lesson that the more money families save, the more they can own and invest.
This school year, with the help of local financial institutions, the agency will expand on last year’s highly successful “Pennies for Pre-Schoolers” by adding more banks and ensuring that all 15 of the agency’s Head Start Centers are participating.
“The local financial institutions have been extremely instrumental in helping us present this idea to our families and the community,” said Almetra J. Franklin, CAA chief executive officer. “While this project has only been in existence for a short time, the impact has been tremendously contagious.”
Statistics collected show the impact of the project as 70 Head Start students in St. Mary and Vermilion parishes have opened up a $25 checking account with their pennies. Banks where the accounts are opened then match the children’s money with an additional $25. Local area social clubs and businesses have also stepped up to the plate in order to re-invest in the community.
Just recently 105 Da Movement social group donated $225 to the Snow White Head Start center in Centerville.
“We encourage other organizations to follow the trend, and give what they can to positively influence the future of next generations to come,” said Lamont Benjamin, Da Movement president.
The project is aimed at the second or third year students who will be graduating Head Start and transitioning into kindergarten. The purpose is three-fold — increase awareness amongst Head Start families, create a more stable family life and structure, and teach families how to use money wisely.
Local bank officials are thrilled with the project and supportive of healthy savings plan habits for kids.
Sandra Turner, Patterson State Bank new accounts manager stated, “I wish all schools would get involved in teaching more financial literacy to give students a Head Start.”
At Teche Federal Bank in Franklin, children were able to bring their pennies, have them counted and rolled. They also learned about the purpose of a safety deposit box, how to use an ATM and the function of different types of financial institutions.
“A reality is that many of people live paycheck to paycheck in a state of constant anxiety, but a positive thought to keep in mind is reassurance that this program will train Head Start children, and their families to use their money wisely”, saidConnie Harris, of the Teche Federal Willow Street branch in Franklin.
Francis Dupre’ with Morgan City Bank & Trust said the staff decided to adopt the Baby Bear Head Start Center because of the importance to teach the children to save from childhood to adulthood. Dupre’ feels if a child can save a penny, then an adult can save a nickel or a dollar. Dupre’ plans on keeping in touch with the students and their parents, and said the staff is planning a function on Sept. 22 at Baby Bear to introduce the program to the parents of the new students. There will be hot dogs and cold drinks served along with a question and answering session for the parents who do not quite understand banking opportunities, principles, and how they can take advantage of that information.
St. Mary CAA continues to help boost up the economy in area communities through a variety of programs. These include the Revolving Loan program, designed to give those who qualify a financial jumpstart to entrepreneurship. Also the Home Buyer’s Education Course; Small Business Development; and Microenterprise Development Initiative classes empower individuals, and give them knowledge needed to be effective business owners and informed homeowners.
For more information on the “Pennies for Pre-Schoolers, or to learn how you can contribute to this initiative and help make a definitive impact on the children in local communities. contact Delores Stewart at 828-5703.