On a recent November evening, a group of young change-makers (and we mean that in the most literal sense) arrived on schedule at the ME to WE store on Carlton Street with bags stuffed full of pennies. A blue carpet was rolled out in the store, and Free The Children’s very own “paparazzi” were out snapping photos of these students who are making a big difference, one penny at a time.
The event honoured Nathan Boogers, Max and Samantha Kastner, Keara Flood, Taylor Haw, James Prowse, Michelle Tac, and Patrick and Thomas Wilson. These outstanding youth are taking a lead in the We Create Change penny drive, which is part of Free The Children’s year-long Water Initiative to provide permanent access to clean water for 100,000 people.
Ten-year-old Keara has collected 11 bags of pennies (so far!), having been inspired to take part in We Create Change after attending WE Day Toronto this fall.
“After I saw what just one penny does, I thought it’d be easy for me to do too,” says Keara. “So I started Keara’s Kauses, my Facebook page, and I put a bucket outside. Every day there’d be another $25 in it!”
The centrepiece of the event was a group “water walk.” The youth, accompanied by their parents and some Free The Children staff, headed to an RBC branch to drop off their pennies. They’d collected 35 bags of pennies combined, but no one complained about the heavy load as they proudly lugged all the bags to drop off at the bank. One brother-sister duo, eight-year-old Max and six-year-old Samantha, had collected so many pennies that they brought along a wagon to help carry them. It was quite the procession down the street, but finally the pennies all made it safely to the bank (but not without some questions from a few curious bystanders!)
After returning to the ME to WE store, the youth and their parents were treated to a celebratory pizza party. The store buzzed with excitement, as everyone was eager to share their unique stories of collecting pennies with their fellow change-makers. Nine-year-old Nathan went door-to-door in his neighbourhood with his dad. Everyone he asked contributed at least a few pennies, proving that small change really does add up to a big impact. Max and Samantha raised awareness through their local newspaper in King City, and left collection jars at several local businesses. They also drew inspiration from their mom, who travelled to Kenya last year on a ME to WE trip.
“My mom told me lots of stories from Kenya… it made me think how lucky I am [to have access to clean water],” says Max. “I want to make other kids around the world lucky like me.”
Thanks to the efforts of Max, Samantha, and the others, 35 people will be provided with clean water for life. And it’s only the beginning – several of the youth were seen leaving the event with more penny bags, this time empty, just waiting to be filled with change!
Join us as We Create Change and bring clean water to 100,000 people. Order your penny bag at www.freethechildren.com/wecreatechange