Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 25, 2013

Campaign to help others started with an annoying little penny

by Stephanie Beach
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — It started with an annoying penny Carrie Charron found on the floor of her car. It seemed she found them everywhere and that one penny in her car started Carrie thinking “what if.”

What if ... she had a hundred pennies lying around her house. That would be a $1 she could use for fast food or a beverage or at the dollar store. What if ... everyone had that many pennies lying around. What if ... everyone living in the Traverse City area put them together. That would be thousands of dollars in spare change — annoying little pennies — that could be helping people in the community.

Figuring it had to start somewhere, Carrie, who works at Skilled Manufacturing Aerospace, took jars in to work and created a sign labeled “Pennies for Poverty” asking her fellow employees to donate their spare pennies to help others.

“In just a four-month time period, 70 employees donated over $100 in pennies that we gave to Father Fred to help people in need,” Carrie wrote. “We continue to do so by placing a five-gallon bucket in the cafeteria. Employees fill it whenever they have pennies in their pockets.”

Carrie’s wish is that her idea becomes a nationwide effort for businesses and individuals.

“Truly there would be trillions of pennies that would be turned into millions of dollars a year to help the needy,” Carrie wrote. “I hope that anyone and everyone can see what one little penny given by many can do to help others.”

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The fourth annual “Food for Families” drive, sponsored by Father Karl Council of the Knights of Columbus at St. Patrick Catholic Church and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, was very successful and concluded as the Lenten season began.

Ric’s Food Market donated 300 grocery bags for the food drive, making it easier for people to remember to fill and return the bags. This helped the drive collect more than 200 bags of food, which weighed 2,833 pounds. The donations were given to the St. Patrick Pantry, which served 3, 782 in 2012, and the Kingsley United Methodist Pantry, which served 1,234 last year, and the need continues to increase.

Buddy Bothwell, a 25-year member of St. Patrick and food drive coordinator, is very proud of the parishes and their members who contributed generously to help feed hungry families.

“The need is great ... and no person should go hungry or have to choose food over other necessities,” Bothwell said.

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Maxbauer Specialty Meat Market’s inaugural “Holidays to the Max” event, held over the 2012 holiday season to help the Northwest Food Coalition, was a huge success.

Maxbauer matched in-store dollar donations and Facebook “Likes” with meat donations. Thus far, the market has contributed 1,850 pounds of packaged meat, a $7,100 retail value, including 200 pounds of ground chuck, 650 pounds of boneless hams, 200 pounds of chicken breast tenders, and 800 pounds of bratwurst.

“When I first spoke with Mark and Stephanie Wilson, owners of Maxbauer, I was thrilled to receive any assistance they could provide,” said NFC coordinator Val Stone. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine they’d provide 1,850 pounds of meat. Thousands of people will enjoy delicious and nutritious meals thanks to the Wilsons, Maxbauer and their customers.”

Stone is coordinating the ongoing meat distribution to 30 area food pantries that are most in need and the Wilsons’ plan is to meet the long-term needs of the organization and the people it serves by continuing regular donations to NFC.

“What is important to remember now is that we need to continue to support the Northwest Food Coalition and the pantries it serves,” Mark Wilson said. “This is in large part why we purchased Maxbauer. To make sure that our neighbors in need will always be able to rely on us for good meals. And that commitment can help provide healthier, brighter futures.”