Ever wondered how much 1 million pennies weighs?
The Rev. Jim Varney knows the answer without Googling it. More than three tons.
How he did he come by that particular bit of arcane knowledge? Therein lies a tale.
Varney — not to be confused with the late actor by the same name — is pastor of the Grayson Freewill Baptist Church. On Monday, he and several helpers cashed in the $10,000 worth of pennies — that’s 1 million of them — his church had collected.
According to Varney, the idea for the penny drive came from one of his sermons. The message of it, he said, was that things like pennies might seem worthless and insignificant when there’s only a few of them, but they can add up to a lot.
Members of Varney’s flock brought in their 1-cent pieces until the million-penny goal was reached. It took roughly two years, he said.
It took a bit longer than expected, but, the fact the goal was reached at all was remarkable in light of the setback the church suffered. About six months into the project, the church was burglarized and the approximately $500 in pennies it had collected at the time was stolen.
The perpetrators were caught when they tried to cash in the coins the day after the break-in, Varney said. They were subsequently convicted, and, as part of their sentences, had to make restitution to the church, albeit not in pennies, he said.
Congregants weren’t deterred in their quest to collect a million pennies and decided to start from scratch, Varney said. And, the silver lining to the break-in was that getting caught and punished seemed to set the perpetrators on the right path, he said. They’ve expressed regret for the crime and apologized to the church, he said.
Varney said Harold Horton, who attends the church and is also Grayson Fire Department chaplain, was one of the penny drive’s prime movers.
Once it reached its goal, the church faced a few logistical problems, not the least of which was where would it take all those pennies to cash them in? That issue was resolved when Citizens National Bank agreed to take them, provided the church was willing to split them up among the bank’s locations in Grayson, Ashland and Russell.
Citizens National also provided the plastic bags the coins had to be placed in prior to cash-in.
“They’ve bent over backwards to help us,” Varney said.
With that problem out of the way, there remained another one — how to transport the pennies. A local business stepped up to help with that one.
Varney said he was in the Grayson Rent 2 Own store and happened to mention the church’s penny collection to its manager, Pam Barton. She offered the store’s box truck and two of its employees to handle the penny-hauling duties.
About 20 volunteers pitched in to load the pennies Monday morning, and Varney and his crew hauled them off to be cashed. As it turned out, they only had to make two stops — at the Grayson and Ashland Citizens National branches.
Dave Simpson, security officer at the Ashland location, said he had seen folks in bring in large amounts of coins to cash in before, but the church’s penny payload was far and away the biggest he’d ever witnessed.
Simpson said the coins would be stored in a vault until they could be counted and rolled, by mechanical means. Once that’s done they’ll be sent to the Federal Reserve, he said.
Varney said the $10,000 would be deposited in the church’s building fund and used to refurbish the steeple of the church, which was built in 1976 and hasn’t had anything done to it since then.
And, he said the church was getting to ready to embark on another similar project, albeit using a much less cumbersome form of currency.
Varney said Grayson Freewill Baptist would try to amass 10,000 $1 bills. Once they are collected, he said, the plan is to put them into one of those machines used in “cash-grab” promotions, which use air currents to create swirling vortexes of currency. The idea is to give folks the chance to see what all those bills look like in one of those devices, he said.
He said he doesn’t expect this project to be nearly as difficult as the last one.
“Dollars are a lot easier to handle than pennies,” he said.
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2654.
Penny drive idea came from sermons
Ever wondered how much 1 million pennies weighs?
- Local News
- Secretary of Education coming to Louisville
New laws go into effect next week
New laws approved during the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2013 regular session go into effect on Tuesday.
Local in brief: 6/19/13
Southland Bible Institute’s training for high school students continues through Friday at the school at 238 W. Southland Drive.
Saturday's Flatwoods Music Festival will include tributes to Mike Murphy
The songs of Mike Murphy and Zachariah will be remembered and performed Saturday amid an afternoon and evening of free music at the annual Flatwoods Music Festival.
Local WinShape camp gaining steam
The WinShape Camps for Communities at Bridges Christian Church the first week of July are starting to draw considerable buzz.
Camp Invention full of science-based discovery
The formula for inventing a new machine, according to 9-year-old Hayden Wheeler, goes something like this: “First, I run it through my mind and plan it out, and then I make adjustments in my mind, and then I try it out.”
Boyd staying with same health plan
Boyd County officials heard pitches Tuesday for two new health care plans — one for employees, the other for inmates. Both claimed they could save taxpayers thousands of dollars in medical expenses over the coming year.
Sentencing in Carter drug trafficking case
Five people were sentenced to prison terms last week in a federal drug-trafficking case that involved selling cocaine and pills in Carter County, according to court documents.
19-year-old launching one-man food drive, ‘Cans for a Cause’
Never accuse Aaron Hannah of not being ambitious and failing to set high goals for himself.
Later this month, Hannah, a 19-year-old 2012 graduate of Raceland-Worthington High School, will launch what is essentially a one-man food drive. His goal: to collect at least 10,000 pounds of canned food for River Cities Harvest to distribute to local nonprofits and churches that help feed the hungry.
Hannah, who just completed his freshman year as a Bonner Scholar at Berea College, said scholars are encouraged, but not required, to do community projects designed to help the needy.
Westwood man charged with attempted murder
A Westwood man was arrested on attempted murder charges following an incident Sunday night, according to the Ashland Police Department.
Michael L. Thompson, 38, was charged following an investigation.
- More Local News Headlines