Okay, I admit it. I pick up loose change.
A penny, here. A nickel or dime, there. And, yes, the occasional quarter.
I find coins in the hallways at the school where I work, on the floor in classrooms under desks, and in the courtyards that separate the buildings on campus.
I’ve even started looking in the coin return slots of the vending machines that sell bottled water, vitamin water, and chocolate milk. Would you believe that I found a dollar coin in one last Friday? Took home $2.15 that day.
I started picking up coins late last semester. I’d take the coins home and put them in an old red plastic Folger’s coffee bucket. I glued the plastic lid on the bucket and cut a slit in it through which I drop the pennies, dimes, and quarters.
My original plan for the collected coins was to save them up and then take my wife out on a small date. Two cups of Costa Rica coffee and a slice of cheese cake at Jason’s coffee-house.
But my plans for the loose change that is slowly starting to build in value changed this summer. I read some pretty staggering figures about world poverty and homelessness that have caused me to re-think what I’m going to do with the money. Things like:
- There are over 6,878,090,660+ people in the world
- 1,155,439,635+ of the world’s population are overweight
- 343,739,993+ are obese
- $102,050,000+ was spent of food in the United States today and then tossed
- 110,060 tons of food is wasted in the United States every day
- $95,000,000+ is spent on weight loss programs in the USA every day
- $218,900,000+ was spent due to obesity-related diseases today in the USA
- $40,550,000+ (US) was spent on pet food in Europe and the USA today
And, then, there are these figures:
- 1,028,626,457+ of the world’s 6 billion+ population is undernourished
- Every 3.2 seconds someone in the world dies of hunger. 75% of these are children
- 24 thousand people die every day from starvation or malnutrition
- There are 2.2 billion children in the world and 1 billion of them live in poverty
- 3 billion of the world’s population lives on less that $2.50 a day
- 1,345,000 billion of the world’s population lives on less than $1.25 a day
- $31,484,200+ would allow us to feed the world’s hungry for a day
- Only 22,937 tons of global food aid was provided to the world’s hungry today
While Costa Rica coffee and chess cake is a good thing, and it will happen, right now the change that’s being saved in the Folger’s bucket is going to go to a better cause. At the end of the school year, the change that has been picked up at school is going to be dumped on our living room floor, rolled up in those paper wraps, counted, and deposited in our checking account. Then we’re going to write a check and send it to an agency that helps feed hungry people.
The amount may not be great, we’ll wait and see, but it may be enough to feed a family for a couple of weeks, especially if that family is one of those who are counted among the 4 billion people who live on less than $2.50 a day.
In conclusion, I have a couple of thoughts that come out of all of this. The first is that people, that includes me, need to be better stewards of what money we have. We work hard for our money and every penny does count. So, when we drop a coin on the floor, pick it up. When we put money into a vending machine, be sure we get all of our loose change out. That’s not being greedy, it’s just being careful with what we have. After all, there is a severe repression in the land.
A second thought that I have is that we, Americans especially, spend too much money on ourselves – whether it be for bigger houses, more fashionable clothes, newer cars, or more snacks and munchies at school. In a world where the majority of the people have such great and life-threatening needs, to lavish upon ourselves the way that we do, without a thought for the poor and hungry among us, is a sin.
Let’s think about, and be grateful for, the many blessings that we have and the provision that most of us are able to make for our families. But, don’t stop there. Let’s think about the billions of hungry, malnourished, and starving in the world and about how we can be involved in meeting their very real life needs.
Prayerfully consider writing a check to an organization that feeds the hungry. Or, simply stop, pick up that penny, and start a “feed the hungry” bucket at home.
Hey, I may look like a beggar or a scavenger to people who see me picking up loose change on the floor or out of the coin return slots of the vending machines at school, but that’s okay.