February 4 of this year was a momentous day for numismatists as the Canadian Mint officially stopped distribution of the one-cent coin, the penny. While the reaction from Canadians was mixed, there was a general consensus that the loss was still a sad end to a 105-year era. The moment was also a sombre day for those striving to improve public health.
On Monday, retailers finally started rounding cash transactions to the nearest nickel in cases where neither party can produce enough pennies -- this to account for the fact that the mint also began, on Monday, its new procedure of melting and recycling all pennies received by banks. That so many Canadians have used the occasion of the penny's long roll home as an opportunity to raise money for worthy causes is heartening. But that it took the government this long to drop a coin that had clearly outlived its usefulness at least thirty years ago is discouraging.
For one week -- this week, Monday February 4 to Friday February 9 -- those precious discarded coins are worth the world. As part of Free The Children and RBC's We Create Change campaign to provide 100,000 people in the developing world with life-saving access to clean water, the Canadian penny has a renewed lease on life.
As a final tribute to this Canadian icon, let's demonstrate the power of the penny and make the wishes of so many around the world come true: let's collect enough pennies to provide clean water for life for 100,000 people. Just $25 in pennies provides a permanent source of clean water for a person in a developing country.