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KIDS GET TANGIBLE BENEFITS AS BANK, SCHOOL TEAM UP TO TEACH SAVINGS

SHARE KIDS GET TANGIBLE BENEFITS AS BANK, SCHOOL TEAM UP TO TEACH SAVINGS

In a hallway of Canyon Rim Elementary School, first-grader Willow Clark solemnly hands over a couple of dollars and watches intently as her deposit slip is recorded and the new balance noted in her savings account.

That's right, savings account.Willow and 101 other young "school savers" are taking part in Bank Day each Wednesday by socking away money through an in-school bank.

"I want to buy a doll house," she explained. "It's expensive - probably like $50."

Like many of her fellow school savers, Willow earns money for her bank deposits by doing chores at home. "I do the dishes and mop the floor," she said.

The Canyon Rim project is a partnership between the school and Washington Mutual Bank, which has long conducted school savings programs in Washington and Oregon. The bank is fairly new to the Utah market but plans to have each of its branch offices work with one or two schools as a community service effort. The Canyon Rim school bank, associated with Washington Mutual's Holladay financial center, has been in operation for four weeks and has received more than $1,200 in small but steady deposits.

Children can set up a savings account and save as little as a quarter. The idea is to instill the savings habit early, according to Michael Miller, Washington Mutual Bank's senior regional vice president.

Canyon Rim parents couldn't be happier. "I wish they'd do this in the junior highs and high schools, too. It's great to give kids the opportunity to save and see how their deposits add up," said Linda Heath, a PTA members and volunteer for the school savings program.

"They get to do basic math and it makes savings fun," adds parent April Dean. "At home, they have a little box for savings, and it gets lost."

Parent Brenda Atkinson thinks the program gives children the chance to set a good example. "We've seen this grow because kids want to do what other kids do. It's good peer pressure."

Second-grader Nick DeRosso likes the bank, too. He takes out the garbage and helps sort cans and paper for recycling to earn money for his deposits. When he has enough money, he plans to buy a remote control motorcycle. Fellow second-grader Stephen Hart has saved $15 so far, "probably for a bike or Tae Kwon Do tournaments."

Molly Bytheway, who's in third grade, said she is saving for some kind of toy but isn't sure just what yet. How does she get her money? "I have this deal with my grandma. I play the piano and if I practice good every week, she gives me $3," Molly said.

She is convinced that saving money is a good idea. "You can save up for big stuff and not waste it on candy and little stuff," Molly said.