Without enough of the proverbial two pennies to rub together, Common Cents, the organization in charge of the 25-year-long Penny Harvest program, had to end its run this past year because it lacked the funds to host the program in the several hundred schools that took part each year.
With no one to organize the Penny Harvest, which – through local participating schools — has been an ongoing source of funding for its food pantry and other programs, Reaching-Out Community Services (RCS) created its own Pennies Matter Program.
“Listen, pennies do matter,” said Thomas Neve, founder of RCS. “I was disappointed that it wasn’t happening, so I said, ‘Let’s just make our own.’” So about three months ago, he contacted local schools, in hopes of starting his new program.
Neve indirectly partnered with two schools, P.S. 48 at 18th Avenue and 60th Street, and I.S. 259 on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Dyker Heights, whose students are gathering pennies to go only towards the fight against hunger.
Unlike Penny Harvest, Reaching Out’s new program can be done any time in the year, and gives the schools more freedom. He also is decided to hold off partnering with more schools, until Pennies Matter starts to take off a little more, although he said he wants to keep the focus local.
Reaching-Out started out over 25 years ago with Neve and a few work friends repurposing a van for a mobile outreach program which provided hot meals, clothing, aid and shelter referrals. Now, Reaching-Out serves over 6,500 families in 16 postal codes with food assistance, social services and other programs.
Neve goes to the schools that participate and give a presentation on Reaching-Out, explaining the impact of these children’s pennies. He also likes to encourage classes to come to the RCS office to see firsthand how the process works, how change happens and get that real life experience. He hopes to continue this program as well as expand it to other schools, though he expects that to take a little time.
“Thank you, P.S. 48 and I.S.259, for helping us to keep the good going. You truly make a difference to help our community members in need,” said Neve.