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American Legion Post 57 of Grandview, Wash., collected a total of 304,701 pennies as part of its penny-a-day fundraiser in February for Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW). The campaign raised money for OCW, the national program to provide comfort items to wounded and recovering troops that cannot be provided with government funds. Donations have previously led to the purchase of rehabilitative items such as sports and exercise equipment, and entertainment products such as music, movies, iPads and more.
"This far exceded what we hoped to collect," said Robert Gates, Post 57 commander. "We hoped for a $500 response for the month, but had that before the actual campaign began on Feb. 1."
The post will be issuing awards to the largest donors from individuals, businesses and schools in the future.
"We thought asking people for a few pennies rather than larger cash donations might help raise larger amounts," said Jim Davidson, Post 57 adjutant, "but we have been absolutely stunned at the response." Davidson said the post received Mexican and Canadian currency, as well as coins and currency from Zambia and Laos. "Our members donated the cash conversion of those currencies."
Davidson noted the earliest donations came in the form of $28 checks from outside the Grandview area. "This was due partly to stories in the local papers," he noted, "but several large donations came from people with a Grandview relationship who heard about the program from an email notice sent by Cookie Shannon of the Grandview Chamber of Commerce."
Davidson said the local schools had been challenged to help with the program. McClure School and Harriet Thompson School participated in the program. "I had to stop by each week to pick up donations," he added. "I kept the coin machine at the bank very busy during the month."
The post sent a check for $3,047.01 to The American Legion National Headquarters, which will use 100 percent of the donation toward purchasing items for wounded warriors.