New Albany third-graders brought pennies to school to raise $2,405.10 for donation to charities.

New Albany third-graders brought pennies to school to raise $2,405.10 for donation to charities.

The students participated in the national Penny Harvest service project for the first time.

The Penny Harvest has three phases, according to the See Kids Dream website.

In the fall, each classroom chooses a cause to support.

Students then research community needs associated with their causes and find ways to donate the pennies they collect to a local organization that supports their cause.

The third phase, taking place in the spring, encourages students to complete service projects that support their causes.

"I think ... it gives them a sense of responsibility, learning about giving back to others, and a whole introduction to philanthropy," said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway.

Three of the classes wanted to help children with cancer or a terminal illness and those students raised $457.67 for A Kid Again, which has a Columbus office and provides free "adventures" for children with terminal illnesses.

Four classes wanted to help abused animals and raised $1,061.66 for the Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a nonprofit organization that investigates animal abuse cases, operates a 40-acre animal sanctuary and supports rural county dog pound reform.

Two classes raised $339.36 for the nonprofit Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, which provides opportunities for people with Down syndrome to be active members of society.

Two classes wanted to help immigrants and refugees and raised $183.70 for US Together, a nonprofit agency founded in 2003 to support refugees and immigrants in central Ohio.

Third-grade teachers Leslie Ropp and Lola Elmer said the money will provide toothbrushes, toothpaste and other toiletry items given to immigrants when they arrive in Columbus.

Ropp said their students were "super excited" to help the organization.

She said New Albany has a diverse population and many students have immigrated to the United States, so they understand language barriers and the stress of moving to another country and starting a new life.

Two classes wanted to help people with Alzheimer's disease and raised $362.71 for the Alzheimer's Association Central Ohio Chapter, which provides education on the disease and support for people with Alzheimer's and their families.

Three classes also completed service projects this school year.

Two classes worked with the Community Refugee and Immigration Services of Columbus, which helps immigrants find work and supports them in their job searches with clothing and other necessities.

Ropp and Elmer said the classes collected "gently used and new baby items" that were given to new mothers in the CRIS program.

The students collected diapers, clothing, two strollers, a car seat, toys, bottles and a baby cradle.

Another class donated 67 blankets made with fleece donated by local families to Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"Families donated fleece and we took a whole day to make blankets," said third-grade teacher Jenny Jehnzen. "They did not just donate money. They donated their time, which speaks volumes.

"Making the blankets was hard work and they did not complain one time. ... They knew they could not heal the sick kids that were in the hospital, but they were happy to know that they could help make their stay a little more comfortable."