For Pete MacDonald, volunteering with the Nanaimo News Bulletin’s annual Pennies for Presents campaign is a family affair.
His father Tom MacDonald was the first to get involved.
“My sister used to work at the Bulletin and she volunteered him for the job,” said MacDonald, who started helping his father at least 10 years ago and got heavily involved when he retired about seven years ago.
“As a former teacher, I’ve got a soft spot for kids, especially the ones that don’t have anything for Christmas,” he said. “It’s going to really needy people at Christmastime and you can’t beat that.”
MacDonald’s partner-in-crime, Ian Thorpe, got involved with the campaign because of his connection to the News Bulletin as a sports columnist and his connection to MacDonald – they taught together at John Barsby in the 1970s.
“This is a great excuse for us to get together and reminisce,” said Thorpe. “We have a lot of fun together as we drive around.”
Before he retired several years ago, Thorpe also involved students at Cinnabar Valley Elementary School in the campaign, which collects change and bills of all denominations for distribution to three charities that benefit children in Nanaimo – the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive, the Salvation Army and the Boys and Girls Club of Nanaimo.
MacDonald and Thorpe are the drivers of the campaign – literally.
They spend hours and hours behind the wheel, driving to the various drop-off locations to collect the change, which is then passed on to the volunteers at Berwick on the Lake, who roll them for deposit.
Tom and his wife, Wig, continue to help by rolling all of the silver coins.
Once the pennies are rolled, MacDonald and Thorpe return to pick up and deposit them with the help of staff at the Terminal Park TD Canada Trust branch.
Both men have learned a great deal about how heavy pennies can be – and how careful one has to be when transporting them.
“If you drop a container of pennies, it takes a long time to pick it up,” said Thorpe, speaking from personal experience.
And sometimes just getting at the pennies can be a challenge – MacDonald remembers being unable to get pennies out of an aluminum mini beer keg one year and enlisting the help of the News Bulletin’s production manager, Duck Paterson, to break open the top.
It’s common for Black Press employees to participate in the fundraising efforts, with reporters, sales representatives and production staff volunteering their time to pick up and roll pennies, as well as promoting the drive in the community.
Donations to the Pennies for Presents campaign can be made until Dec. 21 at the News Bulletin office or one 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.
For more information, please call 250-734-4626 or visit www.facebook.com/nanaimobulletin, to upload photos or share stories about your fundraising efforts.