Living Your Passion: Penny Drive

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners will explore their strong interests/passions and determine the role that these play in helping motivate their participation in philanthropic activities to promote the common good.

PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • identify philanthropic interests of celebrities.
  • explore some of their own strong interests and identify the role they play in philanthropic acts.
  • identify the interests of others that motivate them to advocate for causes.
  • understand the role that “interests” play in promoting the common good.
  • Student copies of Handout One: Celebrity Philanthropy Match
  • Student copies of Handout Two: Answer Key
  • Student copies of Handout Three: What Matters to Me
  • Student copies of Handout Four: I Turned My Interest into My Cause
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: The learners can interview family members asking them to share their personal strong interests in a cause and how/why this cause has come to mean so much to them.


Reflection plays a very important role in promoting student learning. The following suggested activities are ways to help students reflect on their learning after they have participated in a service event.  Choose one or more of the activities most appropriate to the service event and your students.

Put four “table coverings” (large sheets of butcher paper) in locations around the room.  Place one of the following headings on each “table covering”

The Service Project (What did we actually do during the Event?),
The Feelings (What were some of the thoughts/emotions that we had while participating in this service project?),
The Impact (What do we think were the results/impacts of our involvement in this service project?),
The Improvement (What could be done to make this service project even more successful next time?).

Assign each student to one of four groups giving each group a color marker and a starting “table covering”.  Have the students, in their groups, respond to the prompts written on their starting “table covering”.  (NOTE: Each group is to use the same color marker to record their thoughts and ideas on each “table covering”.)  After 2-5 minutes, have the students rotate clockwise to the next “table covering” with their marker in hand.  They are to first read what the first group wrote before writing their response to the prompt.  After 2-5 minutes the rotation continues until all of the groups have been to each table and have returned to their originally assigned table to read all the comments made by the other groups.  Depending on time, a classroom discussion could conclude this activity or it can be just as effective as a reflection activity without further discussion. 

Have the students share the many ways that information is communicated to the public in today’s world (i.e. radio, TV, Internet, etc.). Have the students talk about the kinds of information that are being shared. Focus on commercials and ads. Talk about how media has utilized the varied forms of communication to promote commercial products and services. Ask the students to think about how commercial products and services might have been advertised prior to all of the communication systems we use today. Lead them to understand that prior to all of our modern day communication systems, most advertising was done using handbills, signboards, and posters.  Share the fact that while each of these types of communicating information is still being used in some form today, the poster is the most popular of the three. 

Inform the class that they are being asked to make posters that can be displayed in this classroom next year to advertise this service project just completed. The poster should serve as an effective way to promote and motivate students to become involved in this service project next year. Assign students to groups of three. Give each group an assortment of art materials for poster making and a poster or a large piece of paper.  Tell the students that the poster is to convey the following information:

  1. The name of this service project (and the date, if known)
  2. The focus of this service project (what is supposed to happen?)
  3. The motivations for being involved in this event (why participate?)
  4. The anticipated outcome(s) of this event (what difference will it make?)

If time permits have each group show and talk about their completed poster. Collect the posters for display.


Tell the students that most people don’t have a lot of trouble making a decision to do or not do something. However, very few people give much thought to why they make the decisions that they do. Each of us has a personal style when it comes to making decisions.  Have the students take an involvement style test that will help them better understand how they think when confronted with the need to make a decision, like whether or not to become involved in a project or activity. Have the students select from among the animal character-types listed below, which one they most closely resemble when it comes to making a decision to involve themselves in a project or activity:
  • A turtle: Usually I’m not too willing to stick out my neck
  • A possum: Usually when I’m asked to something I play “dead”
  • A porcupine: Usually when I’m asked to do something, I get “bristle-ly”
  • A snail: Usually when I’m asked to do something I am pretty slow to commit.
  • A sheep: Usually I just follow the crowd and do what they do.
  • A St. Bernard: Usually, I’m pretty helpful but only when I’m really needed.
  • A Giraffe: Usually, I need to see the big picture before I am willing to commit
  • A Hawk: Usually I have excellent instincts and hit the target on the fly.
  • An Owl: Usually, I weigh the pros and cons before I act
  • A Mule: Usually, I need someone to force me to do something
  • A Beaver: Usually I just dive in and go to work before I’m even told to do so.
  • An Ostrich: Usually I bury my head hoping I won’t have to decide.

(Suggest that if there are other animal character-types not listed here that even more closely represent ones involvement style, to feel free to use that animal character type instead.
Have the students group themselves by their selected involvement style. (NOTE: Include a miscellaneous group for those without a match or be prepared to mix and match groups so no one is alone.)  In these groupings, have the students share what it’s like for them to make decisions using their involvement style and under what conditions might they change their typical involvement style and why? Reconvene the class and lead a discussion concerning the involvement styles of the students when making the decision to become involved in this service project? How was their involvement style typical of or different from their usual involvement style? For each involvement style, what might be the best approach to take when trying to promoting this service project next year?

Take a few minutes for students to share why (what were their motivations) they decided to get involved in this Event. Then read the five scenarios below and tell the students that they will be asked to make a decision about which scenario they would respond to/help out with’ if required to select one of the five:

Scenario One: The Appadoca’s home has recently burned leaving the entire family of five virtually homeless. A volunteer agency, that helps families relocate after a disaster, has decided to build the Appadoca’s a new home.  They are in need of people to help out on Saturdays with a variety of skills.

Scenario Two: Mr. Sang is in the hospital recovering from an injury he experienced while using a piece of equipment at the local lumber company.  Mrs. Sang finds it very difficult to visit her husband in the hospital because she has no family in the area to help her take care of her three small children.  The local faith-based organization has asked if anyone would be willing and able to baby sit the children for two hours one night a week so Mrs. Sang can run her errands and visit her husband in the hospital.

Scenario Three: The local soup kitchen is in need of cooks and servers on Friday nights from 5-7 p.m. for the month of October. In filling out their schedule with their regular volunteers, they discovered that not enough volunteers are available in October.

Scenario Four: A local agency, that supplies volunteers to help the elderly who are still living in their own homes with fall clean-up, are in desperate need of leaf-rakers and people who can do light odd jobs that help prepare these older people’s homes for the winter months ahead.  They ask if anyone in the community might be able to help out on the Friday following Thanksgiving.

Scenario Five: A local Salvation Army has put out a request for ‘bell ringers’ for the 4-6 p.m. time period each Tuesday between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

Have the students select the one scenario that they feel they would most likely ‘respond to/become involved in’ and then have them jot down on paper three reasons why they selected the scenario they did.  Designate five different areas in the classroom and have the students move to the designated area that corresponds with their selected scenario.  In the groups, have the students take turns reading the reasons why they selected the scenario that they did.  Have them look for similarities and differences in motivation.

OPTIONAL: Rearrange the groups so that there is at least one representative of each scenario selected.  (Obviously it is highly unlikely that this will all come out even.) In these mixed groups, once again have the students share their selected scenario and the three reasons why they selected the scenario they did.  Once again look for similarities and differences.

Have the students share their conclusions during a whole group discussion. Encourage the class to explore answers to the following questions: Were the motivations for being involved in the same scenario always the same?  Were the motivations for being involved in different scenarios always different?  Did the motivations cover such things as Feelings? Abilities? Impacts? Convenience? How did the motivations involved in this scenario activity compare to those talked about earlier in relation to our recent service project?


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell the students that today they will be discovering things that interest celebrities, and exploring things that interest themselves. Distribute the Handout One: Celebrity Philanthropy Match. Define or review the definition of philanthropy as giving time, talent and treasure, and taking action for the public good. Explain that many celebrities feel strongly about or are interested in specific causes. In this game they will be asked to match the celebrities name with their cause or interest. If they finish before others ask them to think about the reason(s) why each celebrity is interested in that particular cause. Go over the correct matches with the students (Handout Two- “Answer Key” for teacher use). Share conjectures about why that might be each celebrity’s particular interest. Tell the Learners that they will be exploring their own special interests.

  2. Give each learner a copy of the Handout Three: What Matters to Me worksheet and instruct them to fill in the boxes with as many ‘people,’ places,’ ‘things,’ and ‘ideas/other’ about whom/and in which they are “strongly interested” as defined by the circled word/phrases on the display board.

  3. Once this has been completed have them circle on their worksheets one interest from each category that they would say is probably the most important to them in that category.

  4. Ask the learners if this one selection from each category was an easy or a difficult thing for them to do, and encourage them to share why.

  5. Challenge them to consider whether it would be easier now that they have selected ‘one interest’ from each category to select their number one interest overall or not. Why? Or Why Not?

  6. Have the learners reflect on whether or not their interests have changed since they were in elementary and middle school. Ask for volunteers to share.

  7. Have the learners also consider if they feel that their interests will change as they graduate, go off to college or work, perhaps marry and raise children of their own? Ask for volunteers to share.

  8. Distribute Handout Four: I Turned My Interest into My Cause and instruct the learners to read through the three scenarios.

  9. Generate a discussion around the following questions:

    • What was the particular interest in each of these scenarios?
    • How were each of the people sharing their story, still living their interest?
    • How did each of the people sharing their story plan to share their interest with others?
  10. Have the learners return Handout Three: What Matters to Me worksheet and reflect on how they might be able to share one of their interests with others, now, and/or in the future.

  11. Introduce the Penny Drive, sharing with the students the project/process and how they can become involved.

  12. Brainstorm the role interest might play for those who are planning to participate in this project.


The learners involvement in the small group discussions and the seriousness and depth of his/her thinking and sharing will serve as an assessment of learning.

Cross Curriculum 

Hold a penny drive to raise funds for an issue or nonprofit that matches the group's interests and talents.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Provide an example of an organization (or a service that it contributes) from a list of categories of civil society organizations.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify the major operational characteristics of organizations in the civil society sector.
    4. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Identify foundations established in perpetuity and major gifts given for the common good from their endowments.
    5. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify how subgroups and families in society demonstrate giving, volunteering, and civic involvement.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.