Donating Cash and Coins

Parent Q&A

  • How can kids give coins to charity?

    (3 replies)

    My five-year-old son has started regularly collecting coins for charity. I know that coins and charity have been discussed on BPN previously, but all of those discussions centered on places to take coins to redeem them for cash or money orders. My son, being five, is very adamant that he be able to actually feel like he's giving his coins to charity - he needs to feel like he's somehow directly (or as directly as possible) giving his money to someone or an organization in need. What ways have parents dealt with this? I know that sending coins in the mail is not really an option, so what is the next best thing? When he gets older, I'm sure he will be fine with donating online. But for now, collecting coins, putting them in an account, and then clicking some buttons on a computer are just too many steps removed from reality for him. Ideas? 

    This time of year--Salvation Army pots!

    Maybe save them until holiday time and he can put them in one of those bell ringer buckets. Sounds fun to me!

    My son is the same age and loves his coins too!  We currently have a Salvation Army set up in front of our local grocery store for the holiday - the type with people ringing a bell and with collection box/bucket out front.  My son was able to donate a couple of handfuls worth of coins to the box - dropping them in himself - and the lovely people made a big deal about his donation and he was pretty excited about it.    We will probably go back a couple more times before the holidays are over with more coins.  Hope this helps!!

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What to do with accumulated pennies?

May 2012

My husband has managed to accumulate about ten dollars' worth of pennies. What does one do with pennies these days? Roll them and take them to a bank? Do schools ever do penny drives any more? Melanie

You can take pennies to a machine in a lot of big grocery stores, like Lucky or Safeway. You pour them in, and it gives you a voucher you take to the cashier to get cash. The machine takes other coins, too. You pay a small percentage to the machine to do this, but it certainly beats counting and rolling them and then trying to get the bank to acknowledge that you counted correctly! Linda

This might just be my mild OCD talking, but I roll all my change once a year or so and find the monotony of it incredibly cathartic. My parents used to have me do it as a ''chore'' when I was a kid, and would then let me have the proceeds when I was finished. If your child is old enough, it's great practice with counting and stacking, and putting them into the paper rolls is good motor skill exercise.

The alternative is those ''CoinStar'' machines at some groceries. The upside is that you just toss your coins in and the machine does all the work. The downside is that the machine then takes a percentage of your money for its troubles.

Whichever way you go, never pay for paper coin sleeves (some office supply stores sell them). You can always get them free from your bank. loves-rolling-coins

the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley on Berryman Street welcomes penny collection donations, and send them to inner-city Catholic schools--they will be collecting coins again next school year, 2012-2013. penny-free (for now)

Find a local school participating in Good Cents ( - they'll donate your pennies to a worthy cause. Or take them to the nearest CoinStar machine (at your grocery store, etc. - and turn them into gift cards for yourself or donate them to charity through their Counts that Count program. JP

You can take your unrolled pennies to a grocery store that has a Coinstar machine. It will deduct a small percentage of the total (about 2%) but you will get the rest in cash. Also, my credit union has a machine that accepts unrolled coins. The machine automatically counts the coins, spits out a receipt and I take it to the teller for the cash. Check with your bank. rolled coins are obsolete

Schools, churches, and other community organizations definitely do penny drives. My son's school did Pennies for Patients, the church we attend did a campaign to help prevent malaria in 3rd world countries, and I'm sure if you looked around your neighborhood, you could find a similar organization doing a similar campaign. Good luck. Karen

The Safeway on College Ave and the one at 51st and Broadway (possibly others as well, but I am sure about those two) have machines where you exchange your change. You have to choose what you'd like to exchange it for: if for a cash voucher (to use in Safetway, I think), there is a small charge. I chose an Amazon credit - no charge for that - and it worked just fine. The machine will walk you through all of your options. I turned in something like $75 worth of change! Exchanged my Change!

Ask for penny roll paper holders at your bank. Then fill and return to the bank for dollars. Don't bother with coinstar, it will take a huge cut of your money. I ''earn'' about ten to fifteen dollars a year this way. Penny pincher.

When we moved, we took twenty-five years of collected pennies to WellsFargo. The teller put them into sacks and sent them off to be counted. A deposit appeared in our WFB account: Lots-a-dollars Easy peesy ! Sure didn't want to move those pennines !

There are Coinstar machines around town where, for 10%, you can just exchange them for bills. There's one in the Lucky in Montclair but you might google to find others. Signed, Coin dumper.

What funny timing. My son's school just kicked off a ''pennies for patients'' fundraiser to support cancer research. It is a preschool and I am really happy they are doing this both to teach about social causes and also money basics. I'd live to take the pennies off your hands to give to my son for this. Alternatively, you can separate them into $1 bags and use them. I've done this before. I wouldn't use more than a dollars worth of pennies at a time, usually at a coffee shop. I would tell the cashier it was a dollar and they would accept it. Sarah

My bank laughed when they saw I had put my coins in rolls. They've got the machine to count coins, and deposit it right into my account. $

What to do with variety of foreign coins and bills

March 2011

I used to travel a lot for the past couple of decades and I've collected a bin of smaller denomination bills and coins from where I've been. I'm clearing out and I don't think I want this anymore. What should I do with it? Throw it away? -mail it back?

Have you thought about donating to a local elementary school? I've got coins and bills from various countries and my boys love to look at them and ask questions. They are a good conversation starter about what it's like to be in other places. I'd be happy to donate to one of my kids classes on your behalf if you don't have the time to do this. Contact the moderator for my email if interested. Fellow Collector

Give them to a child you know. People used to give me foreign coins when I was a child, and I ended up with a wonderful, interesting collection. I still have it. Or, donate them to a school. heidi

British Airways has a program to collect change from passengers and then uses the funds for charitable efforts and I think Lufthansa has a similar one -- don't know if any US airlines have such programs. You may be able to take the collection to one of the counters at SFO and it will be put to good use. Fellow Traveler

Have you thought about having your collection appraised at a collectables place? There's one near the bottom of Solano Ave, I think. I don't know if it would be worth anything, but it might be worth looking into. If you end up giving it away, I'd love to talk to you about the coins- my 8-yr old collects coins from around the world (and she has a bday coming up). dawn

Our tooth fairy gives foreign coins. She's a world traveler, and she usually includes a little geography/culture/time zone info/lessons in her note back. It's a lot of fun and there's no competition for how much $ her friends get. I'll consider buying your coins/bills if it's not too expensive!! It would help explain away the fact that our tooth f has only been where i've been Janet

No, throw away! Bad for environment!!! Coin and Paper money are still a collector's dream. Below you can call Foster's Coin Company, and they will let you know what you have and they will tell you what they can offer for them. Or you can sell on ebay! Foster's Coin & Stamp Company (510) 845-3015 2189 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704 Good luck!! hbduffy

If you're willing to give them away, just post them on craigslist and you will get a million takers. I for one would love them! If you are not bothered by the idea of children playing with real money, I have a small school and the coins would be great in the dramatic play area as part of a multicultural environment. If not me, try some other schools. cheers michele

The Tooth Fairy that visits my brother's house brings only foreign coins, which I think is very nice. I've heard of various non-profit organizations that take random currencies, but couldn't find anything just now on Google. (I remember collections being taken up on international flights...) Maybe you could donate them to Red Cross or some organization like that, that works in different countries? NG

I also traveled a lot and had the same situation. I put all the bills into two giant collages (I grouped them by country/region) and framed them. I bought some standard LARGE poster board, then used some adhesive to attach each bill; the frames are DIY from a frame store and I get LOTS of compliments. The coins are more difficult -- I put mine into a large binder, putting each coin into a pocket of a 35mm slide sheet, but that stays in the closet. Hope that helps..... Diane

You can donate it to UNICEF: give/foreign-currency.html jp

You could post to the Berkeley Parents Network ''Marketplace' newsletter about having a donation of foreign fact, just with the past 2 months I believe someone asked for a donation of the same, for a child or classroom or something like that. Reduce/reuse/recycle

Find a teacher at a elementary school who would like them. Give them to Depot for Creative Reuse (great place to donate all kinds of stuff you just know you shouldn't throw out) ellen

Post them under the Free heading at BPN's Marketplace. I'm sure lots of people collect foreign money! anon

My parents travel a lot and they save the coins and give them to my sister for the tooth fairy. When her daughter loses a tooth the fairy leaves a small amount of US Currency as well as a coin from somewhere else. They talk about how the tooth fairy has just been to x country and then they look it up on the map. It's a fun idea if you have kids the right age. Heather