Since 1999, McNicholas High School has held Penny Day, when students bring in money, specifically pennies, to their teachers to count during class. This year’s Penny Day raised $5,000.
“For me, Penny Day is the only day of the school year where everyone is focused on helping someone else,” said Sam Roflow, theology teacher and Penny Day organizer. Roflow counts and bags the fundraised money in his classroom to bring to the bank. “Room 204 is sort of the central command center,” said Roflow, “we try to be organized and efficient so we’re not here beyond 3 [o’clock].”
The money collected from Penny Day is split roughly into three. “A third goes to McNick, a third goes somewhere in our local community, and a third to Project Education in Nicaragua,” Roflow said. Depending on money raised and current circumstances, funds will often go towards inner city catholic schools and financial aid. In the past, McNick has raised money for relief efforts after hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, as well as for places like Puerto Rico and Houston.
Penny Day is also known as McNick’s Day of Giving because the annual blood drive occurs that same day. McNick pairs up with Hoxworth Blood Center to provide blood to those in need.
44 out of the 50 total blood donors from McNick this year were first-time donors. Senior Ryan Toles was one of the volunteers, donating two pints of his blood. “I’m kind of hoping I can donate straight to my mom,” he said. Toles donated during last year’s blood drive as well. “The worst part was the needle going into [my] arm,” Toles added. “People need blood every day. It’s important to help them.”
Junior Haley Kohl also gave blood this year as a first-time donor. “[Donating] was good, but I almost passed out.” She advised future donors to eat a lot of breakfast beforehand. She said the worst part was “probably before, being nervous I [wouldn’t be] able to give.” Kohl said she would “totally” give blood again. “I just think there are so many people who need blood every day, so why not?”
In addition to the $5,000 from the Penny Day collection, the blood drive had 81 registered donors, 44 of them first time donors, and 51 units of blood collected total. Those units can potentially save 156 lives.
“I think [Day of Giving] gives us the opportunity to practice what we preach in a unique way,” Roflow said. “We don’t just talk about helping out those in need, but we act on it.”