Penny Harvest Field Opens: It’s Built By Children and All for Charity

by on December 10, 2007 · 1 comment

Stack of PenniesEvery year New York City children from participating schools collect pennies from family, friends and neighbors.

These pennies don’t make their way into piggy banks or Lincoln coin collections.

Instead, the children put their pennies together and they’re literally trucked to the Penny Harvest Field, an enormous and specially designed penny-holding structure in Rockefeller Center.

It’s here where the children can see the massiveness of their collection and can better grasp how their combined efforts and hard work will pay off for charities they’ll later select.

Several Penny Harvest Field Stats of Success

According to Common Cents, the creators of the Penny Harvest:

  • $5.9 million in grants have been donated by Penny Harvest children since 1991
  • Also since 1991, over one million children have donated almost a billion pennies. They’ve made over 9,000 grants and contributed 20 million hours of service.
  • During the 06 drive, children raised $711,3394. That’s 71 million pennies with a weight of over 200 tons. The children selected 1,460 cash grants to contribute to 850 different community organizations
  • In addition to gathering pennies for charity, many Penny Harvest children help by getting involved with service projects

Within all those facts are stories of how the program changes lives. And perhaps just as important, the values learned by the children participating.

Visiting hours for the Penny Harvest Fields. Watch a local WNBA TV report.

The Penny Harvest Field is at the Rockefeller Center between 50th and 51st Streets. It opens to the public today, Dec. 10, and lasts through Dec. 31. The hours are from 9am to 9pm.

For a local perspective of the event, watch the WNBC (New York NBC) Channel 4 video of this year’s efforts from one school.

How would charities be affected with the elimination of the penny?

In the recent CoinNews poll, Eliminate the U.S. Penny?, 45% of respondents indicated that the penny is no longer needed. Here are some interesting supporting points for those opinions:

  • The penny currently costs the government approximately 1.7-1.8 cents to make.
  • The pennies value or worth is much less compared to times past. An inflation calculator shows that an item bought in 1913 for one cent would now cost 21 cents. This alone makes it easier to support the opinion that the cent may have outlived its usefulness.

However, it’s harder to quantify some of the intangibles the penny brings. For example, would charitable programs and the spirit and lessons of giving, like those found with the Penny Harvest Field, suffer without the penny. Would a nickel be given as freely?

2007 Update: How many pennies were collected? Check the Penny Harvest Field Photos

The final tally for pennies within the Penny Harvest Field is approximately 100 million. That makes the penny pathway not only a glittering site to behold, but one valued at $1 million.

A scope of the size and true uniqueness of this charitable event can be seen through this Associated Press photo.

For outstanding photos taken by the public, while they’re available, click here.

*Editor’s note: This section was updated the day after the event started, Tuesday, Dec. 11.

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