NEW HAVEN — “One, two, three, four, New Haven declared a penny war.”
And when all the change was counted, nearly $1,700 was presented to the Paul Chapman family in a ceremony at New Haven Elementary School.
Cameron Chapman is a second-grader at NHES, and when classmates discovered her father was battling cancer, they wanted to do something to help out. With their teachers’ assistance, the class declared a “penny war” competition.
Each class had its own penny bank in the hallway. Throughout the week, the classes gained points by adding pennies to their banks. Students could also lower another classroom’s total by adding silver coins to the bank.
At the end of the war, the second-graders walked away the victors. They walked the money to the bank, where tellers gave them a tour before presenting them a check for all of the change.
Later, Cameron joined parents Paul and Melissa Chapman, as well as fifth-grade sister Cheyenne, for the presentation ceremony in the school gymnasium. A total of $1,697.15 was collected during the event.
Paul Chapman was diagnosed with Stage Four pancreatic cancer in December, after being sick for several months. So far, he has had 14 chemotherapy treatments, with another four remaining. A scan will then be done to determine the next step in his treatment.
Melissa said it is a possibility her husband will have to continue “maintenance chemo.” She said Paul has tolerated the treatments well, but they drain his energy and leave him tired most of the time.
The Chapmans grew up in West Virginia and Ohio, but moved to North Carolina in 2001. Always hoping to move back “home” to West Virginia, where extended family remained, they returned to live in West Columbia in 2014 after Paul got a job as a respiratory therapist at Pleasant Valley Hospital.
“It was extremely touching and heartwarming for the staff and students at New Haven to think of us for the penny war,” said Melissa. “It is an example of why we wanted to move home – the people. There are truly good people here. They care, love and support each other in their communities.”
She continued, “They have taken both our daughters in as if they have always attended this school, and now they are being an excellent support system for them during this difficult time. We cannot say thank you enough to everyone involved in this project.”
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.