Students learning about Holocaust collect 1.5 million pennies - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Students learning about Holocaust collect 1.5 million pennies

HORN LAKE, MS (WMC-TV) - Students at Horn Lake Middle School are learning about the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust during World War II while also seeing how long it will take to collect 1.5 million pennies.

Jack Cohen, a Holocaust survivor, shared his story with the students Thursday.

"This is an international-wide projects schools are putting up to educate young people of what happened during that period of time of the Holocaust to prevent it from happening again," said Cohen.

Cohen spoke to the students of Horn Lake Middle School about the hardship he and his family went through during the Holocaust.

"I like to give them a background of what was my hometown before and after the war and what happened during the war," he said.  "I am a survivor, but I've never been caught and taken to a concentration camp.  Neither myself nor my family."

For over a year, the students have collected nearly 750,000 pennies through writing letters, competitions, festivals and word of mouth.

Melissa Schwartz, coordinator of the Horn Lake Penny Project, said they came up with the project to make the children more aware of the horrible time in history.

"With the freedom of seventh grade language arts, I was able to pick and choose what I read to my kids," said Schwartz.  "So I chose several books on the Holocaust, and my kids and never heard of the Holocaust.  Once I explained it to them showed them videos they were amazed that kids their own age were ripped from their parents and never given a chance to live."

The students' goal is to collect 1.5 million pennies to represent the number of children that died during the Holocaust.

"Our plan is not to use it for financial gain, but to create a sculpture that will be in memory of the children who were killed in the Holocaust," said Schwartz.

Cohen said he hopes the students will carry the lesson with them forever.

"The word I like to see used more is 'acceptance.'"  said Cohen.  "When you accept somebody, you accept them for whatever they are as a human being that one God has created regardless of their affiliation of religious or political or any other thing.  You are accepting the person.  There's a difference between accepting and tolerance, and acceptance would be a better word to use."

To learn more about the Unknown Penny Project, click here.  Pennies can be brought to Horn Lake Middle School at 6125 Hurt Road, Horn Lake, MS 38637, or you can call 662-393-7443.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly