Students in Southern California were laying out some 8.5 million pennies at a speedway track Wednesday, trying to set a world record with a 100-mile-long penny chain and help a school program at the same time.
The money, about $84,500, will go to a program called THINK (Teaching, Helping, Inspiring & Nurturing Kids) Together. The nonprofit program provides free after-school care for students at more than 200 elementary and middle schools in at-risk communities in four California counties: Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino. Nadia Flores, spokeswoman for the Santa Ana-based group, said the idea for “Miles of Change” came after group members saw students at a school in Kansas make a 40-mile-long chain of pennies in July 2008 to set a world record. Flores said her group wanted a program that would unite the counties involved and set a new record. Organizers said the pennies, collected by about 35,000 students over six weeks, were to be laid Wednesday afternoon by 2,000 students in 50 loops around the Auto Club Speedway’s two-mile track in Fontana, California. Flores said every penny must be touching the next penny in order to qualify for the Guinness World Records. Documentation will include aerial photos, she said. Each student took home tubes to collect the pennies. Students who collected the most got tickets to future Los Angeles Dodgers games, Flores said. The effort also is meant to honor Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Lincoln penny.