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SIFE students raising money to help teach local third graders financial responsibility

Third graders throughout the Sunnyside School District will be getting a lesson in managing their money if the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) group from Heritage University has anything to do with it.

The SIFE students have been working to raise funds to provide every third grade student in the school district with a Moonjar. SIFE student Erika Romero explained that a Moonjar is a cardboard box divided into three separate sections. The sections each act as an old-fashioned piggy bank, giving students places to store money they are planning on spending, sharing and saving.

Romero said Sunnyside will be the second school district they have worked with to implement the Moonjar program. She said last year the group worked with third grade students in the Toppenish School District.

Romero said the group focuses its attention on third grade students because research has found that third grade is when most children begin to understand the concept of money.

Cierra Mendoza, another SIFE student, said the project was successful in Toppenish. She said 60 percent of the students they worked with opted to donate the money they had collected in the share portion of their boxes to the tsunami relief efforts. She added another student managed to collect $1,000 in the save section of her Moonjar by the end of the school year.

"We're hoping to get the same results in the Sunnyside School District," Mendoza said.

Mendoza explained that SIFE students will work with the third graders in the district to ensure they understand how the Moonjar project works. She said when school starts, SIFE students will visit each third grade classroom in the district and give a 45-minute presentation on the Moonjars. She said the college students will teach the younger students the importance of saving money and budgeting. At the end of the presentation, each student in the classroom will receive their own colorful Moonjar.

Mendoza and other SIFE students have been spending the past few days visiting local Lower Valley business looking for support for their project. Mendoza explained that they have an agreement with the Sunnyside School District for funding the project. She said for every dollar the SIFE students are able to raise, the school district will put in a dollar. She said the students need $900 to make the project happen in Sunnyside.

"We're looking for donations so we can provide these Moonjars for free to every student," Mendoza said.

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