NANCY MELCHER Special to The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: In nine months, over 500,000 cents have been raised for Habitat for Humanity Durham. Josh Morrison is an Uxbridge boy whose goal is to raise enough money to build one home: that’s $100,000, or ten million cents. Josh started collecting pennies when they were taken out of circulation last year, after seeing a display in the Uxbridge Habitat ReStore.
A penny drive in his local school, Joseph Gould PS, collected over 20,000 pennies with the slogan "Every Penny Counts." This fall, Uxbridge Public School and Quaker Village PS also got into the action, running campaigns with their students. Both were very successful: UPS raised almost 50,000 cents, and Quaker’s drive topped 108,000 cents! They want to challenge Uxbridge Secondary and St. Joseph’s, along with every other Durham school, to collect "Change for Change" and meet or beat their efforts.
During his walk in the Santa Claus Parade, Josh heard from onlookers that they had tubs and coffee tins full of coins at home. To help individuals, clubs and businesses to contribute to the penny campaign, Habitat has opened an account at the TD Bank at 230 Toronto Street south, in the Vince’s / Shoppers plaza, called "The Penny House Campaign." The account number is 5240588 and the branch number is 3184.
Local news media have printed articles about the campaign. Josh was interviewed by Global TV and CBC Toronto. His story has been on the evening television news, and viewers as far away as Welland, Barrie and Lindsay have seen these segments. CBC also broadcast Josh’s message on their afternoon radio news program.
Donation cans have been set up at local businesses, churches, clubs, and organizations. Coins from the cans have been added to those from the ReStores, as well as the school drives and the coins collected at the Santa Claus Parade. Businesses are getting on board too, issuing challenges to help spread the word.
Companies wanting to get involved can join the Corporate Challenge issued by Hollister, a healthcare products manufacturer in Aurora. Before Christmas they collected coins, bills, cheques, and employee contributions, sending over 100,000 ‘pennies’ to the cause.
The Uxbridge Chamber of Commerce has embraced this idea. They will collect donations for the Penny Campaign from their members and guests at the breakfast meeting on January 28. This is part of a Youth and Education initiative the Chamber of Commerce is developing.
There’s still a long way to go to reach ten-million ‘pennies’. Anyone may make a deposit to the "Penny House" account. Bring your collections of old pennies and other change to the TD Bank on Toronto Street south and use their coin-counting machine to determine the total value of all the coins. Out-of-town friends and family can get rid of unwanted pennies and coins by visiting any TD Bank, and directing their donation to branch # 3184, account # 5240588, the Habitat for Humanity Durham "Penny House" account.