Pennies for Peace campaign returns to Camden County Library System

The Camden County Library System will once again participate in the New Jersey State Library’s effort to support the Pennies for Peace campaign, which raises money to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan — one penny at a time.

From Feb. 1 to March 31, each of the library system’s six branches will participate by making collection containers available for customers to donate as many pennies as they wish during the two-month campaign.

The CCLS has branches located in Bellmawr, Gloucester Township, Haddon Township, Merchantville, South County in Winslow Township and Voorhees.

Directions to any branch are available on the Web at www.camdencountylibrary.org.

With each penny bearing the likeness of America’s 16th president, the NJSL encourages all libraries to participate as a way to honor the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, who “firmly believed in education, equality, opportunity and peace” according to the State Library.

Pennies for Peace is organized by the Central Asia Institute, a nonprofit co-founded by Greg Mortenson, co-author of “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time” (2006).

Mortenson also authored the recently released, “Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan” (2009).

“Because of the books and the goal of advancing literacy skills, we thought Pennies for Peace was worth our time to get involved as a library, and we decided to join the State Library’s efforts,” commented Linda A. Devlin, director of the Camden County Library System.

The basic concept of just collecting pennies is based on the fact that while a penny may not be worth much here, it can go a long way toward supporting education in third world countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. Collecting only pennies also allows people of limited means, even children, to contribute and participate.

All the money collected by CCLS will be sent to the State Library, which in turn will gather donations from libraries across the state and will forward the money to the Pennies for Peace campaign. Last year, CCLS raised $529 in penny donations and was recognized by the State Library as one of the most successful efforts in the campaign by libraries.

“We hope to surpass last year’s amount and continue to support education in Afghanistan and Pakistan through the generosity of our many customers,” said Haddon Twp. Branch Library Manager Nan Rosenthal who is coordinating the campaign effort for the library system.

To date, the Central Asia Institute has established 130 schools, educating over 51,000 students, with an emphasis on girls’ education, according to the State Library.