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'A penny saved is a penny earned'

Brimfield school banking program puts Ben Franklin's wisdom to work

Brimfield Elementary School fifth-graders Franco Zanardio and Devin Hazen check deposit envelopes for the Savings Makes Sense program. Rich Hosford. (click for larger version)
October 14, 2010
BRIMFIELD — Devin Hazen sits at a table in the cafeteria, his classmates beside him in a long line, all facing the same direction and each with a stamp and a pile of stickers in front of them. A younger student approaches the table and hands Hazen an envelope of money, which the fifth-grader checks and stamps it before handing her a sticker.

"Thanks for banking with us," he says as he makes his way to a station adorned with a Country Bank sign.

This exchange is commonplace at Brimfield Elementary School, where Country Bank holds a Saving Makes Sense program to teach children the process of banking and the value of saving money. Each Wednesday a representative from the bank comes to the school to meet with one of the school's fifth grade classes and help them take on the role of bank tellers to take deposits from fellow students.

Students are invited, with their parents, to sign up for a passbook savings account with Country Bank. Each week everyone in the program may go to the cafeteria to make a deposit through one of the student bank tellers. The student tellers don't actually count the money for purposes of confidentiality, but they do get experience with customer service and the responsibility of work. In addition, everyone learns about creating a savings account.

"The basic concept is to give us an opportunity to encourage students to start saving at an early age," said Country Bank Financial Education Officer Jodie Gerulaitis, "With the economy as it is now, this is a perfect time for students to think about the future."

Country Bank launched its first Saving Makes Sense program in 1996 at Brimfield Elementary School. Since that time the bank has expanded its program to 26 different schools around the area.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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