LCA Penny Wars fight a bigger battle in Tanzania

Linda Su '24

Supports The School of St. Jude 


March 24, 2022

Editor’s Note: A version of this story appeared in the March 2022 issue of The Vedette, Culver Academies student newspaper.  Qiyan (Linda) Su, of Xiamen City, China, is a contributing writer.

Rows of large, blue water jugs lined the tables in the Lay Dining Hall. Each held several coins and bills, as well as an occasional napkin. Though these jugs could be a source of confusion to some, they serve an important purpose: the Leadership Committee for Africa’s Penny Wars.

Penny Wars is an annual fundraising event conducted by the LCA. The event pits dorm/unit teams against each other, and the team with the highest point total earns a free ice cream party. It is a healthy competition with interesting rules.

Students place coins, representing positive points, and dollar bills, representing negative points, into the labeled jugs. In this way, their donations can either help their team or hurt another. After the end of the competition, all donations are given to The School of St. Jude, a school based in Tanzania that gives “opportunity of free, quality education to children living in poverty.”


Counting the coins.


Lucy Shepard ’24 (Indianapolis), a two-year LCA member, helped lead the panning for this year’s event. “It’s not for college applications,” she said of the volunteer work. “It’s really knowing that what I do benefits others.”

Although she was nervous to give a public speech about the event, she overcame the challenges and encouraged Culver students to participate in the Penny Wars.

Driven by the desire to win an ice cream party and showing hearts of kindness, Culver students have actively engaged in Penny Wars for several years. In 2021 and 2022, LCA received approximately $700 in donations. Ciel and Company A raising the most money this year. Past numbers were $900 in 2019 and $1,200 in 2020.

Angie Strobel '98, LCA’s sponsor, said each contribution provides needed funds for the students’ education at St. Jude’s. LCA began its partnership with The School of St. Jude’s several years ago with the help of Culver alumnus Evan Heckman ’06. Heckman reached out to Chief International Officer Tony Giraldi '75, asking for Culver’s help with the school’s scholarship program.


LCA students visited The School of St. Jude in 2018.


After listening to Heckman’s description, Giraldi realized The School of St. Jude shared similar mission to Christel House, a school that LCA supports in South Africa. Strobel decided to visit the school to verify what the organization was doing. She also had to opportunity to visit some of the students in their homes.

She saw the scholarship students were living in homes with dirt floors, no windows, no doors, or with just fabric covering the doorway. There was no running water or electricity in the homes and several family members shared one or two rooms.

One child in each family is given a scholarship. St. Jude’s teaches the students to share what they learn with their families and others in their communities. For example, learning to speak English helps community members find jobs in Tanzania’s tourism industry.

After seeing the school in action, Strobel recommended that LCA partner with The School of St. Jude, including going on a Global Pathways Spring trip to Tanzania in 2018 to teach leadership to high-achieving students.

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