Nova Scotia

Death of the penny funds playground in Cape Breton

Students at Saint Agnes Elementary School in New Waterford have been diligent penny pinchers, collecting just under $1,300 in pennies to help build a new playground at the school.
Last year Finance Minister Jim Flaherty asked people to donate their pennies to charity. (CBC)

Students at Saint Agnes Elementary School in New Waterford have been diligent penny pinchers, collecting just under $1,300 in pennies to help build a new playground at the school.

The Royal Canadian Mint stopped producing the one cent coin last year, and now the process of rounding up pennies and melting them down will begin.

Last year Finance Minister Jim Flaherty asked people to donate their pennies to charity.

"We kind of hoped to get over 500 originally but then the kids were bringing in pennies by the bucketfuls, yeah so we ended up getting close to $1,300, so it was a really great fundraiser for us," said Amanda Chaisson, co-chair of the Home and School Association at Saint Agnes School.

Chaisson said the old playground has become a hazard.

"The structure that's been in place there the last couple of years the slide has been inoperable. It's just an old structure that's not safe for even our kids to be hanging around. So who doesn't want a great playground at their school," said Chaisson.

She said the children got into the penny collecting spirit pretty quickly.

"The penny drive was great it was a lot of fun for them and the winning class got a pizza party so it was a great little fundraiser to have them involved on," said Chaisson.

Other schools have been collecting pennies as well, Cusack Elementary in Sydney collected 500 pennies for needy families.

There's also a penny drive to support programs at the Youth Centre in Glace Bay.

Chaisson said there are only two draw-backs to collecting pennies.

One is rolling the thousands of pennies to bring to the bank, the other is that not every bank will take large quantities of pennies.

"But we were fortunate that the credit union did take ours for us," said Chaisson.

With the penny drive and other fundraisers like dances and ticket draws the home and school association has raised $22,500 so far.

The group is applying for grants to try and increase their funds.

They've bought some new equipment including a jungle gym with slides that will go up in the spring. There's also a new basketball court set to go up.

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