Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Time to dig deep for last pennies
Fundraisers discuss impact of disappearing coin
With the impending extinction of the Canadian penny, local figures have shared their five cents about the impact on the future of fundraising in the city.
On May 4, the last penny was produced at the Royal Canadian Mint in St. Boniface following the federal government’s decision to scrap the coin in the March budget due to its lack of cost-effectiveness.
But despite this economic decision, Winnipeg firefighters are hoping community members will dig deep in their pockets, underneath their couch cushions and anywhere else those pesky pennies may be hiding.
The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is helping the Salvation Army collect more than one million pennies to help feed children in need. The campaign runs until June.
Retired firefighters are currently delivering collection tins to all 27 city fire stations for individuals to donate. The stations include No. 4 in Osborne Village, No. 6 in the North End, No. 15 in Windsor Park and No. 19 in St. James.
Anyone who donates more than $10 will be issued a tax receipt, said retired Battalion Chief George Smith, who has been a dedicated fundraiser for many years and is also involved in the Toy Mountain Campaign, which collects toys for kids at Christmas.
Smith, who lives in East Kildonan and is president of the Winnipeg Firefighters Support Group, said every penny counts.
"If you’ve got a few pennies, drop by and drop them in," he said, pointing to a large collection container at Station No. 8 on Kimberley Avenue.
District Chief Barry Evans said considering the volume of pennies in circulation, now is the perfect time for individuals to gather up their coins and donate them to a worthy cause before they become obsolete.
"It’s significant that with all the different penny campaigns, there must be so many pennies out there," said Evans, who lives in North Kildonan.
"Everybody has a bag or jar of pennies. And with the demise of the coin, hopefully we can help a lot of needy kids."
Pennies can also be dropped off at various Scotia Bank locations in Winnipeg.
Kevin Rollason, a Winnipeg Free Press journalist and the driving force behind the newspaper’s Pennies from Heaven campaign, hopes the Christmas coin drive won’t be impacted in the short-term.
Rollason — otherwise known as the "head angel"— said approximately 20 to 25% of the coins collected for the fundraiser — which was started by former Free Press editor Mike Ward nearly two decades ago — are pennies.
"The fear would be not necessarily this year, but maybe the year after or the year after that, when the pennies start dwindling," said Rollason, who lives in River Heights. "The funny thing is people are willing to toss away a penny if they see it as useless change, but they are gold to us."
Rollason hopes the campaign will find a way to continue because the need for support will likely outlast the coin.
"As the penny disappears, there will still be hungry people in need. We hope people will still continue to support us," he said.
So will the campaign ultimately need rebranding?
"People have been asking that, but it will still be called Pennies from Heaven for the foreseeable future. The name will stay the same, even if the coins don’t."
Another recently-launched campaign is intended to celebrate the end of the penny era.
Radio-Canada Manitoba has launched an initiative to support Centre Flavie-Laurent Centre — which distributes no-cost furniture, appliances, household items and clothing to families in need.
Community members are invited to donate their pennies in a special basket at CKSB Radio at 607 Langevin St. in St. Boniface between 8:30 a.m. and noon and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays.
All funds raised will be presented to the centre at this year’s Radiothon Radio-Canada in November.
"When we heard about the last penny being made in Winnipeg, we decided it would be great idea for people to get rid of their pennies. They are a heavy weight and it’s an easy way to help a centre," said Martine Bordeleau, communications manager at Radio-Canada Manitoba.
"It’s good to link the end of an era with a new initiative. Like it or not — we won’t have the penny around anymore. Let’s make the best of this and use our pennies for a good cause."
More The Sou'wester
More The Sou'wester
(1 of 14 articles for this week)05/15/2013 1:00 AM 0
Must Have Menus
Ads by Google