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Ripon mans generosity spurs savings
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RIPON – Mike Restuccia didn’t know that the financial markets would be on the verge of collapse when he first came up with the idea to give 8th grade students at Ripon Elementary $20 in a savings account as a way to teach them about saving money.

But in the wake of the foreclosures and the shakeup in the economy, Restuccia’s lesson – fostered by his own experiences accrued during two decades working in the banking industry – seemed to hit home for some of the students involved.

Friday afternoon Restuccia – who served three terms on the Ripon City Council that included a stint as mayor – welcomed the five students from Janice Freeman’s 8th grade class that managed to save the most money over the course of 14 months.

Seeing students take to the concepts was something Restuccia was proud to see.

“One of the things that I told the kids today was that you didn’t have to look far to see how important saving your money is – without anything in the bank you don’t have any sort of a safety net if you were to lose your job or have other problems,” he said. “I think these kids showed that with a little bit of sacrifice it’s possible to save money, and that’s important.”

Student Greg Taylor led all of the students in savings with $979 in his account at the end of the 14 months. Kyle Hvizdo managed to put away $790, while Arlette Hernandez stowed $401. Kelsey Strong rounded out the top savers with $375.

As a reward Restuccia deposited an additional $100 into the accounts of each of the five students, and urged those who had shown the discipline to save to continue on that same path.

“To get into the habit of doing this while you’re young is important, and these students showed that it is in fact possible to do,” Restuccia said. “When I met with the kids a year ago, one of the girls in the class told me that she didn’t have a job or any other source of income, so she wasn’t going to be able to save any money.

“She ended up one of the five students that got an extra $100 in their account today – that says a lot about the determination that each of these kids showed.”