Thursday, June 30, 2011

Program on saving money planned for kids at libraries

Buck, the mascot for Susquehanna Bank's MegaBuck$ Kids Club, will be visiting city libraries for "Mind Your Pennies," an interactive discussion on saving money for kids.

There will also be story time and crafts. The dates are:

July 12, 11:30 a.m.: Reading Public Library, Fifth and Franklin streets.

July 12, 2 p.m.: Reading Public Library Northwest Branch, 901 Schuylkill Ave.

July 13, 1:30 p.m.: Reading Public Library Northeast Branch, 11th and Pike streets.

July 13, 3:30 p.m.: Reading Public Library Southeast Branch, 1426 Perkiomen Ave.

• The Celebrant Singers will perform on Friday at 7 p.m. at Rosedale Grove, 1616 Vine St., Laureldale

• Dr. Susan Phillips Speece, retiring Penn State Berks chancellor, recently received a certificate of appreciation from William E. Donahue, director of campus police and security at University Park, in recognition of her unwavering commitment to Penn State Berks police.

Speece's vision, leadership and support during her tenure were cited as helping campus police establish a reputation for high standards of performance, professionalism and leadership within the Berks County law enforcement community and the Penn State University system.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Elementary school students make strides in raising funds to save Asian Elephants

During a slumber party at the Christiano residents, fifth grade students at Lindbergh Elementary School in Kenmore, Vinnie Christiano and Alex Rine, asked Mrs. Jeanne Christiano if she had a box that they could use so they could start saving some pennies.

Jeanne kindly agreed and the boys began their savings. Rather than saving for a new bike or a new video game, Alex and Vinnie wanted to raise money to help save the Endangered Asian Elephant.

After multiple fund-raisers that were initiated by the two students and supported by school officials including bake sales, chicken dinners, and collecting pocket change from parents, the grand total of funds raised was $500.

“We originally set a goal of $400. I am still in aw that we have made it this far,” Alex said.

Denise Rine, Alex’s mother, was so pleased with the success that her son and friend, Vinnie, achieved that she called the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey to offer them the donation in support of their elephants.

To her surprise, they were not accepting donations. Instead, they transferred her to the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), which is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to funding elephant conservation and research programs around the world.

Deborah Olsen, executive director of the IEF, was impressed by the amount of funds the boys raised, and the passion that Alex and Vinnie had for the cause. She suggested that the funds should be used toward research for Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV), an often-fatal disease that infects baby elephants in zoos and in the wild.

In turn, the boys, their classmates, teachers, and family members were thrilled to hear the announcement that their efforts in fund-raising were going to make a difference for suffering elephants.

“The elephant population is small. Not a lot of people like elephants or big animals because they think they are rough, rude, and mean,” said Alex. “But, they aren’t like that at all. They only react badly if you are in their territory. They need our help.”

The compassion and love that Alex and Vinnie have for elephants has made global news. Not only did Olson find the cause impressive, she decided to spread the news to zoos across the country.

As a result, the Buffalo Zoological Gardens, the Denver Zoological Gardens, the San Antonio Zoological Gardens and Aquarium, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, the Dickerson Park Zoo, the Dallas Zoo, the Riverbank Zoo and Garden, the Elephant Managers Association, and the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey have all agreed to match the $500 that Alex and Vinnie raised currently increasing the funds to more than $6,000.

“I am speechless. Alex just loves animals, he pours his heart and soul into the elephant conservation and the general well-being of animals,” Denise said. “The ambition that these two boys had to reach their goal is unbelievable. Truthfully, I don’t think they are finished with this yet.”

In addition to zoos matching the funds, the Greenville Zoo and individual board members of the IEF have each donated $100 and the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey, in addition to already contributing a comparable amount of money to the cause, have agreed to match the total funds raised by all contributing parties.

“We could never have imagined this result,” said Denise. “Their teacher, Wendy Cummins, taught a lesson during class that stressed the idea of ‘you can make a difference.’ The boys really listened to this and look where it got them. People really can make a difference.”

For more information regarding the IEF, EEHV, or to learn how you can donate, visit

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