Pennies of Time started in September of 2012.
It began with a mom, dad, and two young boys. Just a regular family that loves superheroes, monster trucks, playing with dogs and frogs, and is still puzzled with how to transform our Transformers correctly.
I had been struggling with finding ways to help my young children serve. I had been feeling “pushed” for a full year to get our kids involved more deeply in helping others. We already volunteered, my husband and me. The kids went along for the ride. Wasn’t that enough?
To develop the importance of service in my children, I need simple ideas, ideas that can be completed quickly and still have meaning.
A few days before school started in the Fall of 2012, we were in line at Target. There was a lady in a motorized wheelchair behind us. My five year old turned to her and asked if he could help unload the groceries from her cart. It took my boys very little time to empty out that cart. While they were doing it, we heard the lady’s story of how she was hurt and that she was a teacher getting ready to teach middle school. My young children were able to connect with a complete stranger in a way that they knew they made a difference to her.
That same week, a sweet friend of mine, Jill, abruptly lost her 21 month old daughter, Penny, in an accident. We were stunned by her death and humbled to be witness to her mother’s strength and love in response to this loss. Strangely enough, we were buoyed by the responses from others around our friend. Strangers, friends, and family alike gathered around Jill and her family. They have sent messages of love, messages of their own faith, shared their own experiences of loss, and even made the way to help provide financial support to cover the costs of Penny’s funeral.
Just shy of 2 years old, and, yet, Penny created a wave of compassion and renewal for many, including us, to rethink and reevaluate elements of our lives. Although her time with her family was short, the impression and lesson she leaves behind will be long lasting.
As I was thinking of her, my thoughts wandered to the contrast between her impact and the impact that many understand regarding the American penny. A simple measure of currency, a copper penny alone may seem insignificant to many: not thought worth enough to keep track of . . . lost in the recesses of our couches or in the dryer . . and some even just thrown away without a second thought. Penny’s impact on others is extremely significant despite her age. Just as the value and measure of importance cannot be defined by how old a person is . . . a single penny can mean the difference between having the exact amount needed for a purchase or being short.
I had struggled with finding ways to help my young children serve. And, through Penny’s lesson, I realized what I was doing wrong. I was being too complex, trying to create too grand an idea or service opportunity that would take too much time.
I needed to think in a simpler scope. A shorter unit of time.
A Penny of Time.
Inspired by my son’s constant focus to help and by Penny, Pennies of Time was started as a way to make serving others REASONABLE and DOABLE for children of all ages, for the entire family together. This journey included finding small projects that kids can do, working with nonprofits to better understand how families can help (even those places that don’t allow kids to help them), and finding likeminded people along the way.
The experiment: Take 15-20 minutes each day to serve . . . a small moment of time,
a “penny of time.”
That experiment resulted in greater empathy for others, a happier tone in the family, and an overall happier outlook on life for all of the family members.
What started as a family’s decision to be deliberate in teaching their children to serve is now a shared philosophy of life with other like minded individuals and families. Thousands of families and people with a passion for kindness and serving are now connected due to the efforts of Pennies of Time.
Facts about Pennies of Time:
- In September 2012, when they started their daily acts of kindness, Big Brother was 5 and Little Brother was 3 years old.
- Big Brother was a 2012 Hasbro Community Action Hero National Semi-Finalist.
- Both Big Brother and Little Brother were recognized by the Random Acts Foundation for exemplary effort in serving others.
- Their favorite act of kindness: Delivering flowers.
- Their favorite service project: Cleaning the creek.
- In the first two years of serving, the boys have each completed over 3,500 hours of community service.
Pennies of Time is led by the mom, Sheila. She has a background in education. She loves trees, whimsy, and pretty much anything a 10 year old would like.
Service does not need to be complicated to be meaningful.
It is worth it.