Every penny counts

Steve Bartlett
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Telegram collecting coins for Warm Hearts

Warm Hearts

The penny’s days are numbered, and The Telegram wants to mark the demise of the one-cent piece by seeing how many newspaper vending boxes readers can fill with pennies between now and the end of February.

The coins will be donated to our second annual Warm Hearts Campaign in aid of Iris Kirby House, a St. John’s shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.

Those who share their pennies will have their name put in a draw for an iPad and tickets to the Warm Hearts Gala, which last year featured the likes of The Novaks, Jerry Stamp and Ian Foster.

“With the penny about to be a thing of the past, we’d thought it was a good opportunity to have some fun for a great cause,” said Telegram publisher Charlie Stacey.

“A lot of people have jars of unwanted pennies lying around and here’s a rewarding chance to get rid of them and help out.”

Stacey encourages service organizations and youth groups to get involved.

Hoping to top last year’s total

In the federal budget last March, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the demise of the penny, saying pennies cost too much to manufacture and are a nuisance to many Canadians.

Starting Feb. 4, the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing pennies and instead start collecting them from banks and other financial institutions.

After that date, cash transactions will have to be rounded to the nearest five-cent increment, but electronic transactions will still be calculated down to the individual cent.

The last new penny was struck May 4 at a Winnipeg plant.

The mint has stamped an estimated 35 billion pennies from metal plates over the last century.

The Telegram would like to have as many of them as possible donated to Warm Hearts, which raised $10,570 and 2,672 new items of winter clothing last year for the women and children staying at Iris Kirby House.

“We hope this penny campaign really catches on, so we can top last year’s total,” Stacey said.

Warm Hearts was spurred on by Telegram arts/life reporter Tara Bradbury’s three-part series on domestic violence, “Violence at Home,” published in December 2011. The campaign was launched last January, with “Republic of Doyle” actress Lynda Boyd as the official patron, to collect new pyjamas, socks, slippers, housecoats, mittens, scarves and hats in a range of women’s and children’s sizes, as well as personal hygiene items like soap and shampoo for the residents of Iris Kirby House, a 22-bed shelter for women and children fleeing abusive relationships.

The campaign lasts two months, since February is traditionally the shelter’s busiest time of year, often running at full capacity.

“I’m so happy Charlie has decided to make Warm Hearts a yearly Telegram event,” Bradbury, Warm Hearts co-ordinator, said. “It was originally going to be a project with a few friends, until my editors and others in management decided to help make it into something bigger. I’ve been to Iris Kirby House and spoken to its residents, former residents and staff, and I saw first-hand last year how much last year’s donations from readers were appreciated. These are women and children who have been through — and are going through — a lot and are very fragile, and acts of caring by members of the community go a long way.

“I’m hoping people will be willing to dig under their couch cushions and go through their car cup holders for pennies, and hopefully we’ll get a great head start on the campaign this year.”

The Telegram will begin running a meter on page two daily once the pennies start rolling in. Look for the silhouette of Telegram vending boxes.

The public can drop off pennies at The Telgram’s offices at the Village Shopping Centre.

More details on this year’s Warm Hearts campaign will be announced in the coming weeks.


— With files from The Canadian Press

Organizations: Iris Kirby House, Royal Canadian Mint, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Winnipeg

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