May 1, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff WriterThe United Baptist Church Royal Ambassadors really know how to pinch their pennies. In fact, they have collected enough pennies to donate $1,600 to church missions.
The group of boys, who range in age from 5 to 12 and who make up the church group known as the Royal Ambassadors, read a story in a magazine about a church group that had collected pennies for a fundraiser. Royal Ambassadors leaders Ryan Bascue and Brandon Baxter thought it would be fun to seize the opportunity to get their group to raise money for the church's Easter offering and the Annie Armstrong fund, which helps missionaries in North America and Canada buy food.
"We thought it would be something fun for our group to do and a good thing to get people involved in," Baxter said.
Bascue and Baxter shared their idea with the congregation in October and asked people to bring their loose change to church in hopes of collecting more than a mile of pennies.
"Our original goal was to just get enough pennies that would spread the length of a mile," Bascue said. "After the first couple of weeks, we realized that everyone was really interested in helping us reach our goal, and we ended up exceeding what we originally anticipated raising."
Currently, the group has collected 160,000 pennies.
Nine-year-old Andrew Messer helped collect the pennies and said the experience was a lot of fun.
"I have never seen so many pennies before," Messer said.
He helped make construction paper cutouts that resembled pennies and said, "Jesus loves you one cent." The cutouts represented $46 and served as a graph to show the congregation how close the group was to raising their goal.
"I think it was really encouraging for us to see the response from the congregation," Baxter said. "They were really into this, and it was fun for us to be able to see the overwhelming response we got from people who were willing to help us reach our goal."
After each church service, Bascue estimates the group received more than $100, which would sometimes come in forms other than pennies. The two would then go to the bank and have the bills converted into pennies and would spend afternoons throughout the week sorting the pennies and placing them into empty water jugs.
"I think the people at the bank sometimes thought we were strange because we would bring in $200 and ask them to convert it to pennies," Baxter said.
Minister of music Brian Witt said he is proud of the boys and thinks they must have an overwhelming sense of dedication because they exceeded their goal.
"I am really proud of them. They worked really hard at something they wanted to see happen," Witt said.
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