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Niagara Falls Teen Deposits 1.3 Million Pennies
14 year old philanthropist Wes Prankard is on a mission to build a playground in every remote northern community that doesn't have one. His current campaign will see 1.5 Billion Canadian pennies collected; enough for ten playgrounds.
Three years ago, Wes was shown pictures and heard stories from the James Bay community of Attawapiskat. He couldn't believe or understand that people in Ontario were living in third-world conditions. He knew that something had to be done, and so he set out to raise money for humanitarian relief.
Camping out for 24 hours of his March break, Wes raised over $6,000 and over 12,000 pounds of food, clothing and supplies; enough to assist the 90 people staying in the Attawapiskat homeless shelter survive the rest of the winter.
Upon learning the story, Air Creebec flew Wes and his parents to Attawapiskat to meet the people he was helping. While there, he discovered that the children had no safe place to play. The injustice of that simple fact hit home and Wes decided then that he would build a playground for the children of Attawapiskat.
With the help of CRCS Recreation, The Pepsi Refresh Project and thousands of Canadians, one year later, on his 13th birthday, Wes tightened the last bolt on the new $90,000 playground erected outside the portables where the elementary school kids are taught.
"Seeing the kid's faces when they ran onto the playground that day made it the best day of my life" said Prankard. "I knew then that I had to do the same for every remote northern community that didn't have a playground"
This past spring, the government announced it would no longer produce the Canadian penny. In past years, on average, 1.5 billion pennies were produced and distributed into the economy. The news, a few questions and some epic math skills, gave Wes another idea.
One and a half million dollars (1.5 billion pennies) would build ten playgrounds and provide 2 new homes for foster families in Attawapiskat. (Because of the severe housing crisis, children in care are typically sent hundreds and thousands of kilometers away from home).
After a summer of campaigning and promoting this simple idea, this past week, Wes was able to deposit 1.3 million pennies earmarked for new playgrounds.
Pennies can be deposited at any TD Canada Trust branch in Canada to Northern Starfish Acct: 151 5213225
The goal is to collect 1.5 billion pennies by the end of the year. It is a monumental task that will need every caring Canadian to help. Every penny will make a difference.