Pennies for life raise $100,000

By 
  • October 30, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - What can a penny buy today? More than you think.

Twenty-five ago, when Mary Hughes was a youthful 75-year-old, she heard her grandchildren teasing their father about having a sore back because he couldn’t pass a penny on the sidewalk without bending to pick it up. It got her thinking about all the stray pennies people pass by without notice or exile to their piggy banks. What if all those pennies could be collected and put towards a good cause, she wondered.

On Oct. 24 the St. Joseph’s parish hall in Toronto was packed with more than 200 friends and relatives who gathered to celebrate Hughes’ 100th birthday. No gifts, please. But pennies, as always, were welcomed.

An idea that began with a single penny grew into a volunteer program that has raised more than $100,000 to support the pro-life work of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC). If all the money collected had been in pennies, there’d have been 10 million of them. But as the program gained steam, people began saving their nickels, dimes, quarters and loonies, and then came cheques and bequeaths in wills.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Jim Hughes, president of CLC and the son of Mary Hughes. “It shows how one person can make a big difference and how something as simple as a penny can have a positive impact on the pro-life movement. She’s in her 100th year and still doing it.”

Jim Hughes broke the no-gifts rule by presenting his mother 100 red roses on behalf of CLC. She asked that  they be donated to the church.

Over the years, Mary Hughes has rolled thousands of rolls of pennies. She has slowed down some, but not much. But she was facing a busy week. As they arrived for the party, guests were invited to drop their pennies in a collection box. By the end of the afternoon, almost $3,000 had been deposited — much of it in pennies.

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