‘A penny for your thoughts’
Penny Project participants share their excitement
Living Word Baptist Church, Beachwood, N.J.
“We began the Penny Project in March 2010. Our goal was 19,000 pennies, which represented the approximate number of children in Ocean County—our county—that live at or below poverty level. At first, it seemed a daunting challenge for our small church. However, six months later, we had surpassed our goal by collecting $260—26,000 pennies!
The money we raised went to the BackPack Program of The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The BackPack Program feeds Ocean County’s chronically hungry children, who live in households where they must take turns eating meals or go a whole day without. Often these children arrive at school on Mondays with headaches and bellyaches from not eating enough.
The BackPack Program provides a backpack filled with a two-day supply of food to sustain the children each weekend. The backpacks are filled on Fridays and returned empty on Mondays. Each backpack costs $5 to fill. Four local schools are involved in the program, and more than 100 students receive backpacks.
Each family in our congregation received a plastic piggy bank with the words “Penny Project” written on the side. Our youth involved students in their schools. Church members asked coworkers to collect pennies, and folks would stop to pick up a penny lying on the sidewalk or street. Every month, on Communion Sunday, we brought our piggy banks to the altar and dedicated them. They were then emptied into a large jar.
When we reached our goal, the pennies were emptied onto the altar. What a sight! We had never seen that many pennies before!”
— The Rev. Susan Royle, pastor
Community Baptist Church, Marion, Mass.
“Since September 2009, Community Baptist Church of Marion has been participating in The Penny Project. A goal was set of $2,023, or 202,300 cents—one cent for each child living in poverty in Massachusetts. Each Sunday, people would drop their change into the collection jar on the communion table. Collection banks were made from miniature Chinese food containers and given out to members of the congregation. They, in turn, shared these banks with friends, family and co-workers. By the end of February, the church had exceeded its goal!
On Sunday, March 21, 2010, the church presented grants to two local agencies—Donovan House of New Bedford and Babypoint of Wareham—and two local elementary schools—Sippican School of Marion and Rochester Memorial School.
Donovan House is a transitional home for women and children, and Babypoint supplies diapers, baby wipes and gently used clothing to young mothers who are living in poverty. Funds given to the school were to help children who arrived with no lunch money, needing warm clothing and school supplies.
During worship, each member of the missions team presented one of the grants along with a rose to each of the agencies or schools being honored. At a time of fellowship and lunch after the service, the congregation had the opportunity to talk with agency representatives. Several members of the congregation felt drawn to continue working with these local agencies in some way and are exploring ways in which the congregation can partner further with these agencies.”
— The Rev. Diane Badger, pastor
Franklin (Maine) Baptist Church
“The idea of The Penny Project was brought to us from a fourth grader—Haley—in our Sunday school. She had been at Baptist Youth Camp in Charlotte, Maine, where the pastor presented the project to the youth there. She saved the brochure and remembered not only to bring it home with her but to bring it to church the following Sunday! Her desire to see us participate in this project prompted us to adopt it as our vacation Bible school mission that summer.
The children of the community brought in $103.48, and it was decided that it should be donated to Emmaus Homeless shelter in Ellsworth, Maine. They had expressed needs in the past for the children who are often housed there, and we asked that the donation be used for the children at the shelter. The Emmaus Shelter notified us that they planned to use the money for a special outing with four of the children there. At the time, there were 24 children being housed with their families, with six of them ranging from 4 months to age 9. It was an eye-opener for our children to realize that in rural Maine there could be that many children living in a shelter. Thank you for this project that has prompted us to be more aware of the immediate needs in our community.
Our teens have been motivated to do random acts of kindness for various low-income families in our community as well, delivering food, gas cards and gifts for the children at unexpected times. It has truly blessed our church family to be a part of The Penny Project, by motivating us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you.
First Baptist Church, Trumansburg, N.Y.
“From census figures, we estimated that there are 15,000 children in povery in Tomkins and the six contiguous counties to our church’s location. We challenged the congregation to come up with 15,000 pennies to match that number. We set a large, office-type water-fountain bottle on a Red Flyer wagon, which we wheeled to the front of the sanctuary each Sunday from February to June. Each Sunday, we would ask people to come forward with their pennies and dump them into the bottle.
Our congregation responded in wonderful fashion—everyone—children, adults, elderly. On Sundays when our worship leader would forget to ask people to come forward, they would get up on their own during the offering or stop the service altogether to come forward with their pennies. By Easter, we realized we would collect much more than our goal. When we set a new goal of 50,000 pennies, people charged after that, also. It was amazing.
We felt God's presence strongly in our sanctuary during these months. Sometimes we laughed when people came forward with their pennies; sometimes we cried. Every Sunday we marveled.”
—The Rev. Dennis Christiansen, pastor
Central Baptist Church, Quincy, Ill.
“As of now, we have collected $552.07, or 55,207 pennies. We have been volunteering at one of the elementary schools and decided to give them the money. They had expressed a need for things to help the children on a daily basis get to school—items such as alarm clocks to wake them up and shoes and socks to wear. We are still collecting pennies.”
—Adina Butler, director of Children’s Ministry
First Baptist Church, Richland Center, Wis.
“Our children look forward to adding their pennies to our jar each week, coming with their pill bottles or bags of pennies. With them, we purchased diapers and some school supplies for a women and children’s homeless shelter in Richland Center. On one Sunday, I brought the new diapers, put them at the altar so the church could see what we bought. We prayed for the children who got them. The children in our church are learning about helping others in need, and the women know that someone cares about them and their needs.”
—The Rev. Mary Jeffries, pastor
Prospect Hill Baptist, Ridley Park, Pa.
“You should see the large water-cooler container of pennies someone brought in. It took three people plus a dolly to get it in. I don't know how we will get it to the bank. I guess a few pounds at a time! I tried to pick it up and couldn't. I am surprised the table hasn’t collapsed from the weight of all those pennies. It is amazing to consider that each one represents a child.”
New Winchester (Ind.) Baptist Church
“The children in our church were excited to participate. We were the church that pushed The Penny Project over the 1 million mark in November 2009! We donated our pennies to a shelter for abused women and children in our area so they could buy school supplies for the children and help the mothers to buy Christmas gifts for their children.”
First Baptist Church, Bar Harbor, Maine
“Our children will be visiting the Bar Harbor Food Pantry on May 23. There, they will present a check to Kate McGinn, the director of the pantry, as well as learn about the pantry and how it works. We are just beginning to make our own students aware of the needs of children in poverty in the state of Maine. The highest incidence of families living below the poverty line is in our neighboring county—Washington County.
Our church has an outreach on Halloween night every year to trick-or-treaters and their families. About a thousand people go up and down our street, which is closed off for foot traffic. We will be inviting the community to give pennies for The Penny Project and will make up a simple flier describing what it is about. Every person who stopps for a cup of hot chocolate will receive the flier.”
Community Baptist Church, Tulsa, Okla.
|Patti Horner (right) of Community Baptist Church, Tulsa, Okla., presents a check to Carol Foley, deputy director of Resource Development for Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
“The Penny Project for Children in poverty had been an ongoing activity since February 2010 at Community Baptist Church in Tulsa. Containers were given to all the Sunday school classes, and then the pennies and other change were emptied into a large container each Sunday. The container got so heavy it was almost impossible to move it without a dolly cart. So it became necessary to count the money each week and deposit it into The Penny Project account.
The project ended in September, and a total of $839.19 was collected. I, as chairperson for the project, presented the check on American Baptist Women’s Sunday to Carol Foley, deputy director of Resource Development for Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
This was such a fun project, and seeing the entire congregation involved was a blessing. Our goal was to make us all aware of the many places around us where children are living in poverty, and giving to the food bank will be a way we can be involved in feeding the children. A tour of the food bank is planned in November.”
—Patti Horner, project chairperson at Community Baptist
Bowdoinham (Maine) Second Baptist Church
“Our high schoolers were off to college and the next group of kids were mostly middle school and younger, so we decided to create age-appropriate youth programming for them. The Penny Project was perfect for introducing middle school-aged kids to social ministry and mission.”
—Pastor Jon Stratton
“The Penny Project began during Celebrate Bowdoinham where the church had a Community Ministries Booth. Since then, “The Jar” has been available to receive contributions from the congregation on a weekly basis. The results so far: 4,497 pennies and counting!”
The Johnson Family
“Throughout the summer, we saved all our pennies, collected any we had found and put them in our Penny Project jar. Once, we found a Spiderman wallet in the parking lot of Toys "R" Us. We took it back in to the store, but the folks inside said they did not want to keep it. They told us to keep it, but we all knew it was not our money. We prayed there and then that God would, first and foremost, replace the money to the boy who lost it. Then we decided to take the 10 $1 bills to the bank, exchange them for rolls of pennies and put them in our Penny Project jar, which is on display in our living room so that anyone who visits can see and learn about it. Although we would have loved to get the kid’s money back to him, the money is now going to help other kids.”
—The Rev. Dr. Jeff Johnson, American Baptist Home Mission Societies staff member
Trinity Baptist Church, Arlington, Mass.
|In December, Christmas stockings were hung throughout Trinity Baptist Church, Arlington, Mass., so that people could deposit loose change for The Penny Project.
“As a small congregation, Trinity is progressing slowly, but we are still collecting pennies. We use upcoming holidays as themes to keep the interest level high. In the fall, we had plastic pumpkins on tables for coffee hour and one large pumpkin in our narthex to collect pennies. In December, we put The Penny Project stickers on huge stockings that we hung throughout the church, and people deposited their loose change and pennies into the stockings. In the spring, I gave them all plastic Easter eggs to fill. The money will go to our local food pantry to assist families in need.”