A Thunder Bay charity hopes new attention to the penny will help this year's fundraising efforts. 

Now that the federal government has announced it will stop making pennies, the United Way wonders if people will give more of them to the Pennies for Change campaign.

Although organizers said they're confident people will give other coins when the penny does disappear, donor Anna Gibbon said pennies are important for children wanting to fundraise.

"We include a lot of different change, but pennies are the big thing, especially with the milk carton," Gibbon said. "And I have a 10-year-old son so he relates to … putting his money in his milk carton.  It's a good way of promoting ... children becoming much more aware of our community [and its needs]."


Pennies for Change collection box at the Superstore in Thunder Bay. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Some people like to have a place to donate the pennies they collect. Bart Kusik said she donates to the charity every year.

"Because I like to get rid of my pennies," she said "They don't go very far, as far as shopping [is concerned] and they're heavy to carry around." 

Pennies allow everyone to contribute

United Way Thunder Bay spokesperson Kristy Hilliard said she hopes that kind of sentiment will raise more money for the organization. The Pennies for Change campaign raised $19,000 last year.  

"There's going to be a lot of people that find them a nuisance and we're happy to do something good with them," Hilliard said.

"I think ... it'll be interesting to see how many people want to get rid of their pennies and if it positively impacts this year's … and future years' campaigns."

Gibbon said she wonders if some people might stop donating when pennies eventually disappear.

"You know, I think if people are in the position to give, they're going to continue to give," she said. "But I think when you're able to give … your pennies, it allows for everyone to contribute."

It's a coincidence that the United Way's coin drive is running while the penny is in the spotlight. But another Thunder Bay charity — Habitat for Humanity — has jumped on the opportunity and launched a fundraising drive to collect 10 million pennies.  

Hilliard noted the United Way will likely rename the campaign next year to remove "pennies" from the title.