This summer, children at the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission Women and Family Shelter will get to participate in day camp activities because of generosity from the first- and fourth-grade classes at Pine Tree’s Parkway Elementary School.

The students raised about $600 with a ‘penny war,’ a contest between the classes to see who can bring the most pennies to school.

“Your hard work is going to make such a difference in people’s lives right here in Longview,” Hiway 80 Development Director Amelia Heatherly told the students Tuesday morning. “We have a whole list of things we need for our summer day camp, and Parkway Elementary first and fourth graders did three sponsorships.”

The funds were used to purchase 40 tickets to Longview World of Wonders hands-on children’s museum, carousel rides and boxes of Legos, Heatherly said.

“You always know that when you are 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 years old, or whether you’re 50 or 60, you can make a difference because you know you made a difference here,” she said. “We want to thank you, and I want you to always remember this — that you made a difference.”

The idea for the contest originated with music teacher Laurie Karling, who is also Pine Tree Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

In March, the district allowed campuses to start doing shows again, she said. With campus permission, she started planning a musical concert with the students.

The songs for the performance were about kindness and helping others, but Karling said she wanted the students to do it — not just to sing about it.

Each grade had a community service project they did that aligned with the curriculum, she said. Second-grade students raised $500 for Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center by writing to local businesses. Third-grade classes gave flowers and plants to Pine Tree Lodge Nursing Center.

“I didn’t want the kids just to sing about being kind, sing about being nice and making a difference in the world. I wanted them to be that difference,” Karling said. “I wanted them to be that action toward singing the words.”

The district’s vision is creating givers and dreamers, which Karling said tied right into the project that went on for a couple of months.

“I was going to be happy with $100,” she said. “They blew me away with the response, blew me away with the excitement.”

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