Small donations earn big reward

Annual Pennies for Presents campaign collects coins to benefit Nanaimo charities

Kara Olson

Kara Olson

Pennies for Presents is an enthusiastic recycler.

Using coffee cans, jam jars and peanut butter containers, people of all ages gather up loose change to donate to the annual fundraising drive.

Often containers are re-used from year to year, with faded stickers adhering to dented tins, which sit on shelves all year collecting change.

Money donated to the Pennies for Presents campaign helps three charities in Nanaimo – the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive, the Salvation Army and the Nanaimo Boys and Girls Club. Those charities provide toys for underprivileged children so that no one is left empty-handed on Christmas morning.

The annual campaign was started by Frank Legh, a Black Press advertising consultant, in 1996 and since then raised more than $148,000.

When choosing collection jars, make sure they’re small – pennies, in large numbers, weigh an awful lot – and easy to empty. People can take their containers with them after donating.

“We’ve had pennies donated in all sorts of containers,” said Mitch Wright, News Bulletin managing editor. “Water-cooler bottles are always popular, but when choosing a container, keep in mind how easy – or difficult – it will be to remove pennies later.”

Pennies for Presents kicks off today (Nov. 17) and will continue until Dec. 16. During that time, donations of all denominations – from pennies to $100-bills – can be made at the News Bulletin office at 777 Poplar St., or one of our 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.

“Already readers have donated their pennies to the campaign,” Wright said.

Pennies and other coins do not need to be rolled. More than coins are accepted, so changing bills into pennies at the bank is not necessary – it actually adds a lot more work for the volunteers at Berwick on the Lake who roll the donations for deposit.

Please check out our Facebook page ( to upload your photos, share your success and help others reach their fundraising goals.