Students’ fund-raiser money missing

By Marlena Hartz : CNJ staff writer

In this season of giving, Clovis students have had something taken away.

Thousands of coins collected by James Bickley Elementary School students were reported stolen Dec. 11, according to the Clovis Police Department.

Approximately $200 the students had raised for new playground equipment was stolen, James Bickley personnel estimated in a police report.

The money was stored in seven jars around the school, the report indicates. Two jars were found smashed in the school playground, according to the report.

“Other than the fact that it is wrong and immoral, it steals the innocence of our children. They learn too soon how ugly people can be,” Clovis Schools Director of Community Relations David Briseno said of the incident.

James Bickley students have been raising money for two months, according to Stephanie Rogers, the mother of three James Bickley students.

The Rogers children — in first, second and fourth grades — are devastated, their mother said.

“My house is penniless,” Rogers said. “Every time they found a coin, they would take in the money. They were also taking out the trash, clearing out the background (to raise coins).”

Her children also refrained from buying snacks at schools, opting to put the money toward new playground equipment instead, Rogers said.

“This was something they were trying to do themselves, and someone had to ruin it for them,” Rogers said.

Her oldest son, Tyler, is still upset.

“Some of the kids are sad. I remember seeing a lot of kids bringing bags of money everyday. … I am not feeling that good because all the money is gone,” Tyler said.

So far, plans for another fund-raiser have not been made, according to Rogers, who also serves on the James Bickley Parent Advisory Committee.

The group of parents organized the fund-raiser, named “Pennies for Playground.”

The type of playground equipment that would have been purchased depended on the amount raised, according to Rogers. The committee had discussed purchasing basketball hoops and a tether ball, Rogers said.

James Bickley personnel suspect the money was stolen over the weekend, although school personnel remember locking the school on Friday, according the police report.

“With Christmas around the corner, maybe someone in the community will be able to help” by donating money, Rogers said.

Donations may be dropped off at James Bickley Elementary School, W. 14th Street.