“Illinois Proud Penny Drive” Kicks Off at Butler Elementary to Return Important Lincoln Artifact to Illinois

In celebration of Illinois’ Bicentennial, State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, Illinois Bicentennial Commissioner Rikeesha Phelon, along with several community partners today launched the “Illinois Proud Penny Drive” at Butler Elementary in Springfield. The two week campaign encourages Sangamon County school children to donate pennies to purchase a historic Abraham Lincoln artifact that contains the certification of his "good moral character" and permitted him to begin his law career in Springfield.

“Bringing this historic Lincoln document back home will be our local school children’s 200th birthday present to the State of Illinois,” said Rep. Jimenez (R-Leland Grove). “It’s a great way for our kids to participate in our bicentennial celebration, to connect with our history, and also to learn about what it means to have a good moral character, and why it’s as important today as it was when Lincoln was a young man.”

The “Illinois Proud Penny Drive” kickoff event was held today at Butler Elementary School in Springfield. More than 60 Sangamon County Schools are participating with a goal of raising $15,000 by April 27. Funds collected will be used to purchase and return to Illinois the Sangamon County Minute Book from July 1835 to July 1838 which contains the hand written certification that Abraham Lincoln possessed the good moral character, which was required for him to begin practicing law in Springfield. It also includes information about some of Lincoln's first cases he worked on as a young attorney.

“Illinois Proud Penny Drive’ is modeled after a similar, successful campaign conducted in the early 1940’s in which children across Illinois were encouraged to donate five cents toward the purchase of the “Everett copy” of President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address to return it to Illinois.

“History proves that small donations add up, and I know we can reach our goal and bring another piece of our history home to Illinois for our bicentennial,” said Illinois Bicentennial Commissioner, Rikeesha Phelon. “Sara and I are encouraging all school children in our community to bring their donations to their school while taking the time to learn about the importance of Lincoln’s legacy and good character in Illinois.”

Community partners in the Illinois Proud Penny Drive include the Bank of Springfield, the Illinois Bicentennial Commission, Looking for Lincoln, Midwest Family Broadcasting, Pease’s at Bunn Gourmet, and the Springfield Pepsi Bottling Company.

Residents or businesses wishing to donate to the kid’s campaign can make checks payable to the “Illinois Proud Penny Drive” at any Bank of Springfield location.

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