Benton Elementary School fourth-grader Brooklyn Zibung had built up quite the change collection as she put away all the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters she had found or received from family members since she was a baby. She kept them in an orange shoebox in her closet.

It was a lot of change, so much so that it was a load to carry to school.

Brooklyn told her mother, Jessica, she wanted to donate all of it. Neither of them had any idea how much money was in there. It turned out to be a generous one, especially from a 9-year-old.

Brooklyn donated $58 to the United Way as several schools in the Independence School District was collecting money for the United Way, a non-profit charitable organization. It was the largest donation at the elementary school and ended up being a sizeable contribution to the school’s $2,000 contribution, which was donated by students and faculty. Overall, the school district raised $35,000.

“She said that she wanted to donate all of it, and we had no clue there was that much money in there,” Jessica said. “It was all her idea and her money. I was very surprised but she’s always had a really big heart. She wants to help other kids and help other people.

“The school actually called me to make sure it was OK for her to make that donation because anything over $20, they have to OK it with the parents. When I heard it was $58, I was like, ‘Wow. That’s a lot of money.’ Even when she found out that’s how much money was in there, she still wanted to donate it. There was never even a second thought in her mind to keep it.”

The district had been raising money for the past two weeks for the United Way and it was up to each school building to decide how it wanted to do to raise the money. Benton Elementary decided to give each student 3 feet of duct tape for each dollar they donated and they would get to use it to tape principal Leslie Hochsprung to the wall in the gym. Brooklyn got a little more tape than she had bargained for as she received a whopping 174 feet of tape.

“I felt bad for the kids who don’t get as many toys as I get,” Brooklyn said. “So I figured I would donate a lot of money to help them get more toys and stuff. It made it feel happy that I was helping make a change in the world and helping lots of kids.”

“It got a lot of tape and it kept getting stuck to my fingers.”

Hochsprung said she had a good time with the experience despite being at the mercy of the elementary school children immobilizing her with duct tape.

“We had a committee talk about it and we wanted to try something different,” she said. “It was more fun than uncomfortable. Everyone got to be involved with it during lunch time. It increased our donations quite a bit from previous numbers. Last year the kids raised $200 and this year they raised $600 all on their own. We are very proud of that.”

For the future, Hochsprung hopes to come up with other creative ideas for fundraising efforts for the United Way.

“We will stick to something where the kids will get to be involved for every bit they donate,” she said. “They will have some involvement in it. That was a big difference. They felt like they were involved with it.”