6-Year-Old Matthew Jacques Has Already Had 3 Heart Surgeries

NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Students at a Connecticut elementary school are learning how to make every penny count.

They’re hoping pocket change will add up and make a difference for a classmate in need.

He’s only 6, but Matthew Jacques has had heart surgery three times. The kindergartener understands what will help him.

“A new one,” Jacques said.

Matthew needs a heart transplant. He had his first heart operation when he was just 10 days old, CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported.

“He’s the million-dollar baby,” said the boy’s father, Alphonse Jacques.

Now his schoolmates are going to battle with him.

They’ve launched a “penny war.” Each grade level is trying to out-do the others, raising funds for his mounting medical expenses.

“It’s very challenging emotionally, financially,” said Matthew’s mom, Melissa Jacques.

“We want all pennies in our jar or dollar bills but, all said and done, the money is the money at the end of the week,” said Matthew’s teacher, Lara Silverstro.

To look at him, you’d never know how serious his problems are.

“We don’t want to limit him to what he can’t do, it’s what he can do. And I think with that attitude — he has a great attitude towards it,” said Melissa Jacques.

“It’s taught them a sense of community and coming together to help out each other,” Silverstro added.

Everyone is hoping the spare change can help save a life.

“To see the amount of support that we get from his teacher, from his classmates, from the school, it’s extremely overwhelming. It’s very heartfelt,” Melissa Jacques said.

There’s no prize for the children other than bragging rights, but they are getting a life lesson that can’t be counted.

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