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Pennies For Presents cash donations down, but volunteer commitment strong

Pennies For Presents is the annual News Leader Pictorial Christmas charity campaign. -
Pennies For Presents is the annual News Leader Pictorial Christmas charity campaign.
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Vancouver Island University students and staff have been digging into their pockets for cash donations for News Leader Pictorial’s 2011 Pennies for Presents campaign.

Although this year’s VIU contribution is down considerably, to $68 compared to last year’s $300, staff haven’t given up on supporting the annual campaign.

“It’s a great cause, and it’s local, easy, and does not ask already cash-strapped students to dig too deep into their pockets for cash,” Arleigh Trail of VIU’s Student Services department said.

The Cowichan Campus is in its fourth year collecting cash for NLP’s yearly campaign, thanks to Cowichan Campus principal, Maria Lauridsen, who asked staff to get on board with the Pennies campaign in 2008.

The donation drive sees dough funneled to Cowichan’s Salvation Army, the food banks in Chemainus, the south-end and Duncan, and Cowichan Women Against Violence.

Continuing Education Services department’s Penny Plumbly and Student Services’ Trail spearhead the school’s contribution and get folks around campus fueled up in every department.

They sprinkle “brightly decorated penny jars” on counters in every corner of the campus, plus hang up notices and posters about the campaign.

Although this year’s collection wasn’t their biggest to date, staff have high hopes for the longevity of the campaign.

“I hope that it continues,” Trail said. “Many local individuals and families benefit from the generosity of staff and students, and everyone feels good about contributing to our community.”

News Leader Pictorial staffers are also pulling all the strings when it comes to getting the public pumped about its Pennies campaign.

A considerable decline in donations of small change has staff steaming up new ideas to get Cowichanians scrambling for contributions before Christmas.

“We definitely have noticed things are flowing a little slower than usual,” NLP publisher Bill Macadam said Wednesday.

A regular thermometer update will appear in the NLP, updating Cowichanians of how much coin’s been counted.

“We’ve been noticing a decline over a number of years in our cash donations,” NLP office manager Kim Sayer said.

On the plus side, NLP’s book sale has been a huge boost to the fundraiser.

“It’s been an extremely huge addition for Pennies for Presents,” Sayer said, noting this year’s sale brought in $7,200.

The 15th annual Pennies for Presents campaign is an island-wide Black Press initiative.

NLP staffers are hoping the Christmas spirit will charge up Cowichanians to bring in their donations before St. Nick arrives Dec. 25.

Proceeds go to the Salvation Army, Cowichan Women Against Violence and the Duncan, Chemainus and Mill Bay food banks.

To donate to Pennies for Presents, or to volunteer, stop by the News Leader Pictorial office at 5380 Trans-Canada Highway or call the office at 240-746-4471.

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