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Donations up in annual penny drive

NANAIMO – Residents dropped off thousands of coins for the annual Pennies for Presents campaign.
Melissa Fryer

The people of Nanaimo came through in support of local children this Christmas.

During the News Bulletin’s annual Pennies for Presents campaign, people dropped off thousands and thousands of coins and even bills, resulting in a heavy load for delighted volunteer drivers Pete MacDonald and Ian Thorpe.

MacDonald and Thorpe spent hours in December picking up pennies from the News Bulletin office and school and business partners and dropping them off for the volunteers at Berwick on the Lake to roll, then depositing them at the TD Canada Trust branch in Terminal Park.

MacDonald’s parents, Tom and Wig, rolled all of the silver.

Total numbers are not yet in, as coins were still coming in to be rolled as of last week, but MacDonald estimates that the campaign raised between $8,000 and $9,000 – up from the $5,500 raised last year.

“It’s better than I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s good news for all of us – it gave kids presents who otherwise wouldn’t have one.”

The money goes to three charities that support local families – the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive, the Salvation Army and the Nanaimo Boys and Girls Club – and the campaign ensures no child is empty-handed at Christmas and that families have all the fixings they need to celebrate together over the holidays.

MacDonald, who made regular trips to Berwick on the Lake, said the volunteer rollers there handled the extra volume of pennies well.

“They’ve got arthritis and their fingers are sore, but they keep doing it, they keep up and they’ve done a really good job,” he said.

Also to be commended are the efforts of the community drop-off locations: InPrint downtown, John’s Bedroom Barn, Northridge Fitness, Canadian Tire, Sink or Swim Scuba, La-Z-Boy, Royal LePage at Brooks Landing, Coast Realty downtown, the ICBC Driver Licensing Office on Metral Drive, Quality Foods in University Village and Cline Medical Centre on Prideaux Street.

Several schools also participated in the campaign, including Cilaire, Frank J. Ney, Pleasant Valley and Rutherford elementary schools.

The campaign’s final tally will be available later this month.

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