The value of a penny

Greater Victoria senior remembers the importance of a penny

Don Clarke

Don Clarke

Don’t tell Don Clarke a penny can’t make a difference.

The 94-year-old Langford resident, who grew up during the Great Depression, recalls every penny making a huge difference to him.

“For one cent you could get five to six pieces of candy,” said the resident of the Alexander Mackie Lodge. “For a nickel you could buy a bag of candy you could hardly carry out the door.”

Having lived through “the Dirty 30s” where a multi-course meal could be had for a dime, he still appreciates the value of a penny today.

Clarke remembers shoveling a quarter-mile long driveway for 10 cents, before accidently dropping his dime into the cracks of a wooden walkway and losing hours of his hard work for nothing.

“Most people (today) don’t know what a penny is,” he said. “They think it’s something to spend. We thought it was something to save.”

For years Clarke “rode the rods” sneaking onto the tops of trains and lived from meal to meal in search of his next penny knows the feeling of having nothing.

“Those that have experienced tough times like myself (understand),” he said. “People who have been through it know what it is like to be without.”

These days, dropping a penny or a dime might not be worth the effort of picking up – but it could make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

Black Press’ 15th annual Pennies for Presents is an opportunity for those with a little extra jingle in their pockets during the holiday season to drop off their change in support of those without. Whether the need is food, services or support, the need continues to be great.

Continuing on through Christmas Day, all money collected in the coin drive goes to the Mary Manning Centre, Threshold Housing Society, Victoria READ Society, the Young Parents Support Network and suicide prevention group, NEED2. The initiative collected more than $12,000 in Greater Victoria last year and more than $600,000 since its inception.