Warm Hearts launch a slam dunk

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Let no cushion go unturned. May no pants pocket stay right-side in. And may every vessel that jingles with change be broken open in the name of a good cause.

The federal government may have lost love for the penny, but its monetary value still stands, and The Telegram’s Warm Hearts campaign launched a penny collection quest at a MUN Sea-Hawks wom-en’s basketball game Saturday night.  

The campaign was inspired by a series written by arts/life reporter Tara Bradbury on domestic violence. It raises awareness, funds and clothing for Iris Kirby house, a safe haven for women and their children escaping the dangers of domestic violence and looking for the start of a better life.

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At the game, it was obvious that there was still some good left in those coppers and not just for the good of the campaign, either.

Many children approached The Telegram kiosk, their little hands filled with change to donate. Some had planned ahead enough to have plastic sandwich bags bursting with coins that they eagerly handed over.

Perhaps they didn’t exactly know what the money was going towards, but they knew they were donating it for a good cause, and so it seemed that as they gave to the campaign they took a lesson away with them. And if the lesson in goodwill wasn’t quite enough, they also walked away with a pair of Telegram bam bams, long cushion-like inflatables struck together to make a sound in support of the Sea-Hawks.

The seats at the game were filled with the sights and sounds of the flash of white bam bams coming together as the crowd spurred on both the team and the Warm Hearts campaign at the same time.

MUN’s athletic teams have taken up the spirit of the Warm Hearts campaign too, setting a goal for themselves that they want to raise in the campaign’s name. Michelle Healey is the director of athletics at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.  

“When we heard about what the The Telegram was doing with the warm hearts campaign and the collecting of the pennies, we thought it was a great idea and it would be easy for our program and our athletes to jump on board. So we challenged our teams and our athletes at our university campus to try and collect over the next month 100,000 pennies at least,” she said.

Their challenge of collecting 100,000 pennies got out of the starting gate Saturday night with a backpack of pennies brought in, but now the real heavy lifting begins. Every place a penney can hide will be canvassed.

“The athletes are really excited. It’s a real and meaningful way to contribute to a real great cause,” said Healey.  “And they’re all involved in their own way in their own team projects, but this is one we can all kind of come together collectively and see how money really builds because of the size of the penney. It should be a big dropoff we have in a month when we go to The Telegram office, so everybody is really excited.”

At halftime of the women’s basketball game, Chris Kirby and the Marquee took over the entertainment and kept the crowd moving.

Last year, Kirby and his band also gave freely of their time to the campaign, which pinnacled with the “Stars for Warm Hearts” concert at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre.

This year a similar concert will take place at the centre on Feb. 23 with many of the province’s best performing for the cause.

Last year, Warm Hearts raised more than $10,000 and collected almost 3,000 items of clothing for Iris Kirby House.

This year, along with the pennies, The Telegram is collecting new warm items of clothing, as well as personal hygiene items like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Penny cans will be in retail outlets in the coming weeks, and donations can also be brought into The Telegram

In the second half of the game following Kirby’s performance, Telegram bam bams kept the beat, cheers roared in support of the Sea-Hawks and the sound of coin hitting coin could be heard as the tension in the game built along with the stack of copper (and silver) in aid of the Warm Hearts campaign.

The basketball swooshed through the hoops as the change was tossed into the collection. The MUN players scrambled briefly in the second half, their lead diminishing as the Dalhousie Tigers put the pressure on but they found their groove again in the last quarter and took the game 84-75.

It was a victory for the women’s Sea-Hawks and Warm Hearts.




Organizations: The Telegram, Iris Kirby House, Sea-Hawks Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador Dalhousie Tigers

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