Aaron McLean, 8, raised more than $600
for the Pennies for Peace program which helps build schools
for children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

THE GIFT OF GIVING

By Gail Schontzler
Chronicle Staff Writer

Aaron McLean is only in second grade, but he already knows a lot about giving.

This summer the Bozeman boy, 7 years old at the time, collected $633 for Pennies for Peace to help build schools for children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Aaron spent hours collecting pennies every Tuesday evening at the Bogart Farmers Market. He'd sit with a huge pickle jar on a table, next to a copy of "Three Cups of Tea" given to him by Greg Mortenson, author, humanitarian and a neighbor.

I"I feel happy, very happy," Aaron said of giving. "Because it's helping kids in Afghanistan so they don't have to go outside and write with sticks in the dirt and the teacher only comes three times a week."

Aaron and his grandmother, Juelie McLean, said he will probably add the money he raised to Irving School's Pennies for Peace collection.

"I learned giving is very polite and very nice," Aaron said.

Aaron's experience is a good reminder -- when this year's Christmas gift-giving season falls in the midst of the great recession -- that anyone can give, no matter what age, no matter if one is rich or poor, working or unemployed.

You can visit the Pennies for Peace Website for more information.

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BOOK SIGNING WITH GREG MORTENSON

What an exciting day for Aaron as he had his picture taken with Greg Mortenson on Sunday, Dec. 20th, 2009!!

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AARON DONATING TO CENTRAL ASIA INSTITUTE 2010

At the end of the school year (2009/2010) Aaron combined the money he collected with that of the Irving School to donate over $1,000.00.
Irving School donated $249.13. Aaron donated $852.21. He continues to collect and is close to $1,000.00.

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