At his Brantford office, Mike Perron works towards rolling one million pennies for charity. Photo courtesy of Mike Perron

One million pennies in one year for charity

By 
  • February 16, 2013

Don’t look now, but Mike Perron wants to get his hand in your penny jar.

By the time he’s done, he plans to have 2,500 kilograms of pennies. That’s one million coins, or $10,000, which Perron will give to charity.

“I’m determined that I am going to do this one million pennies,” said Perron, a financial advisor from Brantford, Ont.

Perron has been hatching his plan since first hearing of the Canadian Mint’s intention to phase out the penny. The final coin was minted last May and the pennies began to be removed from circulation Feb. 4.

“I read an article about phasing out the penny and I saw another article about people possibly saving these pennies for charity and I thought that was a good idea,” he said. “But I put it in the back of my mind.”

That was a year ago. Then last December Perron began to ponder the pennies again. He has been involved in other fund-raising projects but, as he says, a penny campaign is “not like raising $80,000 or $100,000 like I do with other charities.” Then someone mentioned the possibility of collecting a million pennies.

“I said, well, let’s be unreasonable, let’s do that, let’s go get a million pennies.”

The money will be divided with 80 per cent going to the children’s charity Chalice and the rest to Hamilton Right to Life.

Perron collected his first copper on Jan. 5. A week later he had 2,000 pennies rolled and ready for the bank. By Feb. 4, the day that Canada’s six billion pennies in circulation officially began to be phased out, Perron’s penny count was more than 20,000, worth $200.

“I can’t think in dollars because that will depress me,” said Perron.

He says it will take a year to reach his goal and asks anyone who wants to contribute to contact him at penniesperron@gmail.com.

Perron’s drive is one of many penny campaigns for charity. In Toronto, 110 Catholic schools are participating in a campaign called We Create Change operated by Free the Children.

“The We Create Change campaign teaches us that size doesn’t matter,” said Bruce Rodrigues, director of education for the Toronto Catholic District School Board. “Big things can, and do, come in small packages — like the penny.”

That message was echoed by Craig Kielburger when he addressed students at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Toronto.

“Sometimes people look at young people and they dismiss them as powerless, just like how people look at the penny,” said Kielburger, who, with his brother Marc, founded Free The Children 18 years ago. “They say the penny is too small to change things, a penny doesn’t matter. But when you add enough of those pennies together, just like when you add enough young people together, something starts to happen.”

Launched last September, the nationwide campaign has collected more than 70 million pennies. Kielburger says that’s enough to reach into space if stacked one on top of each other.

The campaign was supported by Royal Bank, which provided students at more than 2,100 schools with $25-capacity penny bags.

Filling one bag can provide a child in a developing country with clean water for life. RBC will accept rolled and bagged pennies in support of Free the Children until June.

Perron acknowledges that he can’t compete with campaigns like We Create Change, but hearing about their success gives him hope.

“I’m amazed at how many people are fascinated with this project,” said Perron. “I’ve got faith that these pennies are going to come. I don’t know from where, but they’re going to come.”

 

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