“It’s a pleasure to help in this small way!” That statement sums up the sentiment of hundreds of people who participated in this year’s Coins for Life campaign.
Anti-life forces are well-financed by media moguls such as Ted Turner and other billionaires, as well as by the government. But there are thousands of ordinary folks who want the relentless attacks on human life checked and eventually reversed. They try to help with prayers, activism, and financial donations. They recognize the size of the challenge represented by the struggle for life.
Some people have found a simple and painless way to financially support the work of pro-life groups: Coins for Life.
Cy Fleming of Mississauga introduced the idea in the Toronto area some years ago. Fleming recalls that the concept actually originated in Newfoundland in the 1950s.
He told The Interim it was primarily seen as “a means of teaching the spiritual lesson of sharing on an everyday basis.
It was intended to appeal to kids and entire families as they were encouraged to take a penny at each meal and place it in a jam jar.” That campaign went on year-round and the saved pennies were brought to the church as an offering in the last week of Lent.
Coins for Life has been adapted as a fundraising project for pro-life organizations and has met with success in various regions of Canada.
Certainly, the original educational value has not been lost on current penny savers. Some still see Coins for Life as a good way to form character and instill a sense of responsibility in young people. Everyone can practice this simple charity and show a concern for others. As one participant noted: “The labels found on the plastic containers sparked conversation about life issues among younger children.” Parents have a chance to explain a bit about the need to save human life from those who wish to harm it.
Dan Di Rocco, who oversees the fundraising campaign in the Greater Toronto Area, explains how it works: “Usually a member of the congregation acts as a go between. This congregation contact person approaches the pastor for permission to conduct a Coins for Life campaign in the parish. Once the pastor approves, an announcement is made in the church bulletin to invite members of the congregation to participate if they are interested. On a given Sunday, clear plastic containers with Coins for Life labels are distributed to those who want them. A colourful poster is put up in the church lobby to publicize the campaign and serve as a reminder to the congregation.”
Di Rocco said the simplicity of the campaign and its many attractive featurs has led to Campaign Life Coalition collecting roughly $10,000 with the help of 17 congregations and more than 600 individuals so far this year.
The campaign usually lasts eight to ten weeks. At the end of the stated period of time, the containers are returned by the participants and forwarded to Campaign Life Coalition.
Di Rocco noted that church contacts like the campaign because it is seen as an unobtrusive and peaceful way for people to make a contribution to the pro-life cause. He emphasized that “¼It is not another parish collection¼ It is done strictly on a voluntary basis by people who respond to the quiet approach to help in the great struggle of this new century.”
Other contacts noted that it did not create an additional burden or extra work for already hard-working pastors.
“Yes, Coins for Life is popular because it is practical, effective and easy to do!” Christine Vallins of Scarborough told The Interim. She felt that people are wanting to help pro-life. “Now they have a simple way of doing something. When I explained it to others they were quite eager to participate.”
Numerous organizers noted that the discreetness of the campaign and the fact that everyone could participate, regardless of age or financial means. Denise Hartley of Toronto said in an interview with The Interim her fellow parishioners “were glad to do it. It was not just for the rich. Anyone could do it and they felt no pressure because they were not forced to do it.”
The small plastic containers can hold a lot: one container holds $9 worth of pennies when full, $35 in nickels, $90 in dimes, $150 in quarters, $500 in loonies, and $1,000 in toonies.
One young contributor noted that $9 of pennies is the equivalent of two Baskin Robbins ice cream cones, one day of parking in downtown Toronto, two birthday cards, two movie rentals, two cups of coffee plus a dozen doughnuts, a bag of cat food, or four subway rides.
When put in these terms it does not sound like much, but when multiplied many times across a province or the country, the small contributions of thousands of pro-lifers help to save lives.
Di Rocco said we must remember how well-oiled is the anti-life machine. But as the Coins for Life slogan says: “A little change can help bring about the big change” necessary for the preservation of civilization itself.
Di Rocco challenges readers if The Interim and all pro-lifers to get involved in a direct way with the Coins for Life campaign.
“Start such a Coins for Life group in your congregation. Start a Coins for Life group in your school, in your Bible study group, in your Knights of Columbus or Catholic Women’s League council. If you own or run a convenience store, a pharmacy, a delicatessen, a bakery, a service station, a coffee shop, a video store, or any business which brings in many customers, why not make available such a container on the counter by the cash register. Customers would have the option of contributing to the Coins for Life campaign.