Donations to the Coins for Kids fundraiser have declined since the penny has been taken out of circulation, but organizers and volunteers still hope people donate.
Pete MacDonald, a longtime volunteer, said the year-round campaign, which sees coin donations and proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island and The Great Nanaimo Toy Drive, has raised more than $175,000 in the 21 years of its existence. Five thousand dollars were raised last year.
MacDonald said it is disappointing because more money used to be raised when pennies were still active currency and the fundraiser saw as much as $15,000 or $20,000, while now it’s a scramble to make $5,000.
“It used to be called Pennies for Presents, that was the name for years,” said MacDonald. “Then, of course, the pennies went out of circulation. You’re like me … you’re just happy to just get rid of pennies, it’s just a nuisance. Actually, it was really difficult packing them around and a lot of work rolling them, but we made a lot of money. Once that happened, we dropped in half, so from like $15,000 a year to maybe $7,000.
“Also now, with the cashless society – debit cards, credit cards, online stuff – there’s very little cash any more, so because of that too, that’s another contributing factor, that’s why donations are down.”
Ian Thorpe, another longtime volunteer, started offering a hand to help friend MacDonald, who he’s known since the 1970s, and has also noticed a decline.
“People just don’t carry change like they used to, myself included, so that’s a fact of life,” said Thorpe. “So it’s scaled back somewhat, but we’re still operating and collecting.”
Nevertheless, both MacDonald and Thorpe say it is for good causes.
“By doing this, we give people the opportunity to feel the way I feel on Christmas morning,” said MacDonald. “That is, we’ve helped out some families that really need it, I mean desperately need it. People can donate to a cause and they know the money goes directly there.”
Coin jars are available at the Nanaimo News Bulletin office, 777 Poplar St., as well Quality Foods stores.