Libraries Honor Lincoln By Collecting Pennies For Peace

TRENTON—Throughout February and March 2010, the New Jersey State Library, the New Jersey Library Association and libraries throughout New Jersey plan to honor the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, as part of the national Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commemoration, by collecting pennies.

Lincoln firmly believed in education, equality, opportunity and peace. To help continue his legacy, the State Library and NJLA are encouraging New Jersey libraries to participate in the Lincoln Pennies for Peace Campaign.


All funds collected will be donated to Pennies for Peace which collects funds for the Central Asia Institute co-founded by Greg Mortenson, the subject of the bestselling biography, “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School At A Time.”  The money will be used to build school libraries in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Last year, school and public libraries from all over New Jersey raised over $13,400 in pennies. The campaign really caught on with young people and children, because they all could be part of the fundraiser just by putting in a few pennies. We found the ‘children helping other children’ aspect resonated with them,” said Norma Blake, NJ State Librarian. So far, almost 90 public and school libraries have joined the 2010 campaign.

The original Pennies for Peace was conceived by students in a Wisconsin elementary school in 1996. Since then, over 16 million pennies have been raised by over 700 schools in all 50 states, including over 10 million pennies in the past year. The program is designed to educate children about the world beyond their experience and show them that they can make a positive impact on a global scale, one penny at a time.

After failing to reach the summit of K-2, Mortenson, emaciated and exhausted from his experience, staggered into a poor remote village whose residents nursed him back to health. He noted the children had no school or school supplies, using the ground and sticks to practice their multiplication tables. He promised to build them a school, and since then has made it his life’s work to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan to educate students where no schools existed. His mission has been to promote education and literacy, especially for girls, in remote regions of these two countries. To date, the Central Asia Institute has established 130 schools, educating over 51,000 students.

Now those schools need libraries. “We believe that Lincoln would have been proud to have New Jersey libraries adopt this campaign in his honor,” said Blake. “Lincoln would have been very supportive of helping children in other areas of the world receive an education to help them become insightful leaders and active participants in global peace.”

The local libraries are participating: Carteret Public Library; Henry Inman Branch Library, Colonia; Cranford Public Library; Fords Branch Library, Fords; Piscataway Public Library and Westfield Library.

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