Steamboat Springs Receptionist Valerie Honeycutt wasn't quite sure what to think on Friday morning when a teen-ager and police officer wheeled five water coolers filled with coins through the front doors of Community First National Bank.
It wasn't your usual spare change, Honeycutt said.
Steamboat Springs High School senior Glen Hammond and resource officer Jason Patrick hauled almost $1,900 in change to the back of the bank to be sorted and counted before the money could be given to the American Red Cross' disaster relief fund.
"It was such a neat thing to see this cart being wheeled in that was so heavy that two people needed to push it," Honeycutt said. "It shows how much these kids care, that they realize they are part of the community and part of the United States and can help."
Students at the high school competed in "Coin Wars" as part of this week's homecoming festivities.
Collecting coins during homecoming week was originally just an idea to raise money for any worthy cause, Patrick said. After the events of Sept. 11, the students thought it was only appropriate to donate the money toward efforts that helped the people in New York City, he added.
Signs began circulating last Friday to inform students about the chance to show their school spirit by tossing their pennies, nickels and dimes into one of four water coolers, each indicating a particular class of students.
The students far exceeded expectations, with the senior class needing an additional water cooler to hold all their coins, Patrick said.
"We would have been happy to get about $1,000," he said. "This kids gave above and beyond what they had to."
Hammond said he was surprised with how seriously students took the fundraiser, which began on Monday morning and lasted until Friday morning.
"It turned into a big competition," Hammond said.
Points earned from the coin fundraiser help determine which class earns the spirit stick this year, he said.
All classes combined raised $1,889.25, with freshmen contributing $257.40, sophomores giving $414.82, juniors donating $335.34, and seniors winning the competition with $578.69.
Only pennies, nickels and dimes were counted toward a class' total amount, so students couldn't thwart their younger or older classmates' efforts to raise the most money by tossing quarters or dollar bills into their containers, Hammond said.
Even teachers got in on the competition by placing money in a particular class' container, he added.
Any piece of currency worth 25 cents or more counted against a class' total amount, he said.
The $97 in quarters and 47 dollar bills that found their way to the juniors' water cooler cost them $144, and that amount was then subtracted from a week's collection of $335.34
Community First National Bank wrote a check out to Steamboat Springs High School, and the school will then donate that money to the American Red Cross.
Rhonda George, a vice president at the bank, said she was impressed with the willingness of some of Steamboat Springs' youngest residents to get involved in the relief effort.
"We've seen such a big show of support from students in this community," George said. "This is such a great deal of support from kids who might have had to give up some of their money to help."