18th Annual Penny Harvest
By Mike Unser
your penny jars and start digging through your
couch, the 18th annual Penny Harvest is underway
and kids need your change. Nearly 500,000
students from across the country have begun
scouring for loose pennies and going
door-to-door asking for spare cents. But the
pennies are not for them, they’re for charity.
And best of all, Penny Harvest teaches children
about their value in working together, sharing
and contributing to society.
From now until Thanksgiving, students between
the ages of four and fourteen will call
themselves Penny Harvesters as they collect
millions of pennies from family, friends and
neighbors. All collections are then one hundred
percent donated in the form of grants to
non-profit organizations student leaders select.
From helping the elderly to protecting the
environment to over a thousand other worthy
charities, the students make the call to where
the money goes.
According to Common Cents, the nonprofit
organization who started the Penny Harvest, $6.8
million in grants have been donated by children
since 1991. And during 07/08, Penny Harvest
students collectively raised a whopping
$799,033.35 in pennies.
On the Common Cents website, Debbie Sigismondo
at IS 381 in Brooklyn summed up a few of the
benefits children receive.
"Each year the Penny Harvest has branched into
more projects, and it has become an even more
rewarding experience. Students come to identify
the roundtable as the ‘go-to’ students for
charity and service. The Penny Harvest students
become strong advocates and team members."
A couple of cents here and there doesn’t buy
much these days. But a mind-blowing impact is
seen and felt when the combined efforts of Penny
Harvest students and their collected pennies are
unveiled each year in New York City near the
world-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
A massive 165-by-30-foot copper-colored exhibit,
called the Penny Harvest Field, stretches as
long as a city block between 50th and 51st
streets. In December 2007, it was filled with
some 100 million donated pennies weighing more
than 300 tons.
With that many pennies staring you in the face,
the children and the world see how everyone can
make a difference.