Pennies for Peace participants meet with Greg Mortenson

Back row L to R: Greg Mortenson, MHS teacher Russell Evans, student Jaime Diaz
Front row L to R: Altrusa members Carol Parker, Val Burnell, Diane Winger, and student Diamond Clarin

On Sunday, May 30, Members of Altrusa's International Relations Committee and representatives from Montrose High School's Pennies for Peace project presented Greg Mortenson with checks totaling $1,840.91 for Pennies for Peace. This donation consisted of contributions from the MHS Student Council ($250), a Pennies for Peace fundraising drive at the high school ($440.91), a concert to benefit Pennies for Peace ($150), a donation from Altrusa International of Montrose ($500), and an individual donation ($500). Since our community's first Pennies for Peace event, a program co-sponsored by Altrusa of Montrose and the Montrose Library in January 2008, approximately $7,250 has been raised and donated to Mortenson's Central Asia Institute by the Montrose community (counting only those donations reported to Altrusa).

During our visit, MHS teacher Russell Evans described the two "Day in the Dirt" events at MHS he had organized (one in March 2008, the other in April 2010) where a number of teachers took their classes outside to simulate the teaching conditions in villages without even a simple building to use as a school. The students scratched their lessons in the dirt with sticks and talked about the many privileges children in this country have and sometimes take for granted.

Mortenson was very impressed with the concept of the "Day in the Dirt," as was Pennies for Peace Director, Christiane Leitinger. They requested that Evans organize another "Day in the Dirt" next fall so that they can obtain videos and photos, since they would like to include this awareness-raising event in future publications and in their online curriculum suggestions.

Mortenson provided free autographed copies of several of his books to our Montrose group, and signed the books we had brought with us.

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