Pennies for Heaven
One drop of water can create an entire lake. One drop of water can be the beginning of a flash flood and create havoc for an entire town or region. One mosquito can be the beginning of an epidemic such as the Zika virus and end up effecting who competes in this summer’s Olympic games.
It should not be surprising then that one penny can save someone. Yet, all too often we dismiss that single penny as having such little value that it counts for nothing. One of the easiest ways to become a humanitarian, to make the ordinary day end on an extraordinary note is to simply put your pennies in a jar or container. You can keep several so that you have exact change but try saving a few each day.
Worldwide Veterinary Services is one charity that still collects coins and your extra pennies as well as stamps. Based in Dorset, England, the charitable organization funds such projects as a wildlife rescue center in Armenia and another in Zambia, helps alleviate the spread of rabies via dogs, and eliminate injuries to donkeys in India who are threatened at night in heavy traffic areas because of poor visibility in detecting the animals near the roadway.
Another United Kingdom charity has taken the power of the penny and combined it with technology. Through their website pennies.org, people can donate via cyber funds, to charitable organizations in the UK. “We exist to help raise more money for the charity sector and offer a new, data-free, way of fundraising. We invest our own funding into developing and growing the digital charity box. We are a small team, united in the strong belief that by working together with payment technology providers, retailers and consumers, we can raise millions in new giving for UK charities.” Their five year existence has resulted in over six and a half million British pounds being donated to over one hundred charities.
The year 2009 was the two hundredth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, His profile appears on the US penny. To commemorate this anniversary, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society celebrated the 1.5 billionth ($150 million) penny collect by school students across the country for the “Pennies for Patients” program. vYes, that is right. They collected 1.5 billion pennies which added up to one hundred and fifty million dollars. This money went for patient programs and research and is proof positive of the power of one penny.
The World Wildlife Fund also relies on penny donations. One can donate at a Coinstar kiosk, those machines where you can take your spare change and have it counted and sorted for you. “Every penny counts for an organization like ours and while individual donations through Coinstar® may be small, they add up in a big way,” says Terry Macko, vice president and chief marketing officer at World Wildlife Fund.
The list of charities recognizing the power of a single penny donation is not small. Common Cents New York is one such charity. By “transforming idle pennies into useful dollars” they have collected over fifty million pennies which means they raised over half a million dollars (fifty million pennies). Habitat for Humanity also benefits from penny donations. Church’s [Fried] Chicken hosts a Parade of Pennies to benefit Habit for Humanity and in the first year, they raised enough pennies to provide a family with a house of their own.
Perhaps the most well-known organization that has long known the value of the humble penny is the Salvation Army. Former Salvation Army commander Lt. Bryan De Michael believed “If we can collect all those pennies and get them together, we could really do something good with it.” Their winter holiday Red Kettle campaigns raise millions to benefit others in local communities. Even the convenience store chain 7-11 reports that one-third of all monies collected in store collection receptacles are pennies. This translates into at least one million dollars of the three million dollars donated annually.
All too often we seem to think of ourselves as a single penny – not really worth much and powerless to bring about change for good in the world. We have far greater power than that of a single penny but even if all we have is the power of a penny …. Well, I hope this post has illustrated just how powerful that can be. Find an empty jar or small box and make today extraordinary by collecting a few spare ordinary pennies and putting them in your Change for Change container. Soon you’ll have made this Ordinary Time a catalyst for change in another person’s life and most likely, your own. You can be extraordinary just be saving a penny each day. You can make someone’s less than perfect existence heavenly!