As the penny becomes a footnote in Canadian currency history, Winnipeg charities are clamouring for the copper coins to top off much needed funding to keep operations running.
Villa Rosa, a prenatal and postnatal residence for young, pregnant women based in Wolseley, is hoping its penny drive will net $1,000. It’s a small number, but 100,000 pennies to reach that amount is no small feat — nor is it a light one.
"We’ve created a bit of work for ourselves that’s for sure," laughed executive director Kathy Strachan.
"We’re always looking for ways not only to raise funds but to get people involved inside our doors and hearing about what we do. People for years have saved pennies and are probably looking for places to donate them to that are going to be a part of something better."
Tucked away near Mulvey School at 784 Wolseley Ave., Villa Rosa offers a 25-bed facility and small apartment block for women looking for a healthy and safe place to stay during their pregnancies. Clients are predominantly between 16 and 23 years old, but Strachan has seen clients as young as 11 and as old as 49 over the years.
The centre’s annual budget is around $1.6 million, and offers an in-house junior and high school, counselling, and other parenting and anger-management programs.
However, Villa Rosa couldn’t survive without donations from Winnipeggers and local businesses, Strachan said. The $1,000 it hopes to raise will be used for basic necessities, including shampoo, laundry soap, toothbrushes and deodorant.
"We have a lot of residents who arrive with no personal supplies," Strachan said.
"Things can happen whatever stage you are in life and you can become homeless when pregnant."
For more, call 204-786-5741 or visit www.villarosa.mb.ca.
If 100,000 pennies sounds ambitious, Strachan can look toward local animal shelter D’Arcy’s ARC for a little bit of encouragement.
Over the last 10 months, the shelter has collected 250,000 of them, or around $2,050, shelter founder D’Arcy Johnston said.
"I’ve jammed the coin sorting machine at our bank several times," Johnston joked, noting he scavenges pennies off the ground at his local 7-Eleven to add to the tally.
It cost about $1,400 a day to run the shelter in 2012, Johnston said. For charitable non-profits, every dollar and cent counts, and organizations have to get creative to bring in more donations, he said.
The collected pennies have gone to offset the shelter’s medical costs, he added, noting there are currently 130 animals under the shelter’s care, and that pregnant cats that will deliver spring litters are already coming in.
"It’s $2,000 I didn’t have the day before," he said.
"I get excited when all these buckets come in."
D’Arcy’s ARC is located at 730 Century St.
For more info, call 204-888-2266 or visit www.darcysarc.ca.