A Tidal Wave of Change

What sound does a penny jar make in the hands of a student leader? What about three hundred young leaders?That’s right… it’s the sound of change!

It was this sound that filled the gymnasium of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School today, when student delegates from across the Greater Toronto Area came together to give the penny a special send off. These young people have spent the last few months rounding up pennies for Free The Children’s We Create Change campaign, set to be the largest penny drive in Canadian history.

The campaign seeks to unleash the power of the penny by supporting Free The Children’s year-long Water Initiative to provide 100,000 people around the world with a permanent source of clean water.

In a few short months, Free The Children has seen over 4,000 sign-ups for We Create Change, including individuals, groups, and more than 2,100 schools! Students across Canada have rallied together to create change, filling thousands upon thousands of penny bags, and proving that every single cent can make a difference.

So how many pennies have we raised to date through We Create Change?

Enough pennies to outweigh a Boeing 747, or even 32 fully grown African elephants! If we built a tower with these pennies, it would stand taller than 170 CN towers. It would reach over 100 km high, right through our atmosphere and into outer space!

And the grand total?… 70 million pennies so far, that’s $700,000, enough to provide clean water to 28,000 people—for life! That’s a tidal wave of change!

An exciting line up of guests came out to this farewell to the penny party, including Degrassi star Jacob Neayem and Spencer West, both of whom highlighted the importance of clean water to community development, something they learned first-hand from their ME to WE volunteer trips overseas. They were joined by Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons, a former all-star running back and now vice-chair for the Toronto Argonauts, who spoke about the value of teamwork and the importance of helping others. “If you want to show me a truly great person, don’t tell me about records and awards,” said Clemons. “Show me what that person has done for other people.”

The event also marked the start of Penny Drop-Off Week, a special week-long drive from Monday, February 4 to Saturday, February 9, where Canadians are invited to bring their loose pennies—in any amount and any container—to any RBC Royal Bank branch across the country. Dave McKay, Group Head, Personal and Commercial Banking at RBC came out to share this exciting news alongside Olympian Jennifer Botterill. “At RBC, we wanted to do something big,” McKay said, “something we’ve never done before, to show our appreciation for the tremendous effort being made by young Canadians in support of this great cause.”

Lieutenant Governor David Onley also made a special appearance to celebrate what can be achieved when we come together. “Change only happens when people like you, two by two, school by school, province by province, rally together for a common cause,” he said.

During the celebration, we caught up with Clare Neilson, 12, and Megan Zalzal, 11, from Glenburnie School, where students teamed up to collect 28 bags full of pennies.“When we first started collecting pennies, we thought we’d be able to fill about five bags,” said Clare. “When we went beyond that, we thought, this isn’t going to be so hard. We can do this if we work together.” The girls plan to keep up their hard work through the year. “Now we want to fill 50 bags… no, 100 bags,” said Megan.“We’re never going to give up!”


Join us as We Create Change and put your pennies to good use as they go out of circulation. From Monday, February 4, to Saturday, February 9, drop off your pennies – no matter the amount, in any kind of container – at any RBC branch. Your pennies will support Free The Children’s clean water programming around the world.