Annual Tremont penny drive raises big bucks for charity

By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times

Although there are a lot of adages about pennies — “Find a penny, pick it up…,” “a penny saved is a penny earned…” and so forth — the single, solitary cent doesn’t hold much value in peoples’ minds. After all, a penny, literally, isn’t worth much, right?

The members of Tremont High School’s Fellowship of Christian of Athletes are big supporters of the penny. For three years running, the group has been collecting those little Lincolns in service of their fellow students as part of an annual penny donation drive.

Those pennies really add up.This year, the group collected more than $730 in pennies and other loose coins, all of which will be spent on Christmas gifts for elementary and high school students in need. This was the donation drive’s biggest year, yet.

According to Brady Ramey, THS teacher and head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the success of this year’s program is a testament to the generosity of the school community, its faculty and students.

“It’s just a good cause,” he said, adding that in past years, the group offered some kind of prize for the class or student who raised the most money. This year, no such prize was offered, and yet more money was raised than ever.

“There’s not really an explanation for it,” Ramey said. “I just think people realize there are a lot of people out there struggling because of the economy.”

Potential recipients of the donations are selected by teachers and submitted to Ramey, who keeps the names private. High school students are contacted directly and asked if they’d like to receive some items — usually clothing — while the parents of elementary students are contacted to see if they’d like to participate in the program.

Sometimes, they don’t.

“A lot of them are not willing to accept,” Ramey said, adding that he understands the sensitivity of the issue, especially among high school students.

This year, the group is helping 11 students, the most it’s ever helped.

The penny drive originated as a fundraiser for Toys for Tots, but changed into something specifically targeted at Tremont Attendance Center students at the suggestion of a teacher. For Fellowship of Christian Athletes members like Emalee Yielding, the fact that the money being raised goes to help her fellow students makes it seem all the more important.

“You can actually see the need here at the school,” Yielding said. “We might not actually know who we give it to, but you know it does mean something to someone you know.”

According to Ramey, the generosity exhibited by the students at Tremont is both appreciated, and often emulated.

“One of the kids we helped our first year brought in a big bag of pennies last year. He was telling everybody in his class that this was a good cause because he was one of those who needed help,” Ramey said. “I think that’s great.”

adam.armour@journalinc.com