Pilgrim Congregational in Leominster raises funds ten cents at a time
How much is one dime worth? Although you can get off the dime, stop on a dime, turn on a dime, design on a dime, and even nickel-and-dime someone to death, these days, dimes are, well, not even worth a dime. In fact, a dime that was produced after 1965 is made of nickel and copper, and at today's rates has a metal value of less than two cents.
So why was it sought after by the Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC of Leominster?
According to Sandra DeRienzo, chair of the board of deacons, dimes are the perfect size to drop in water bottles.
Borrowing the idea from a cancer relay fundraiser she had worked on previously, DeRienzo donated a few cases of water bottles. A committee of three created labels on strips of paper which they then taped around the bottles. The labels gave instructions for people to drink the water and then save the bottle and fill it with dimes during their summer vacation. The money raised would be allocated to the Capital Campaign Fund.
"Many people don't attend our church in the summer and donations go way down," said DeRienzo. "We hoped that these water bottles would be a visual cue for people to think about church whenever they were thirsty during the summer months."
At the end of the summer, they received back 75-100 bottles of dimes. Some were partially full and some were filled to the brim. "A full bottle contains almost $100, said DeRienzo, "so the money adds up." In this case, it added up to almost $3,000.
DeRienzo believes the key to success for this fundraiser was to make it fun and set deadlines. The committee challenged the congregation to fill the bottles by certain dates and made it a bit of a competition among families to see who could fill the bottles first. The families were very enthusiastic and commented that all family members got involved in looking for dimes around the house. Children were even encouraged to donate some of their allowance to the bottle drive, and were given smaller water bottles. "It seemed to be a pretty painless way to raise funds," she said. "And making it a fun challenge brought success."
"Think of how many times we drop change in the bottom of our purse or in the cup holder in the car," said DeRienzo. "Now families could think of that loose change as a donation to the church."
"We want Pilgrim Church, UCC to be strong and bright for the people of Leominster for the next century," said Pastor Dr. Keith C. Alderman. "This is a simple way for our members to say that we love God and love our church."
The church kept records of how much money was donated. DeRienzo brought the bottles to the credit union for counting and deposit. They had to cut the bottoms off the bottle in order to get the coins out because they tended to jam in the neck of the bottle. Because DeRienzo asked the families to write their names on the bottles they were able to track donations and record them accurately. The bank waived its usual fee because the church kept accounts there, so every dime meant pure profit.
The church has encouraged members to keep empty water bottles in the house all year and make a habit of dropping dimes in them, and even make them part of their weekly offering.
"What one person can do alone, many can do better," said DeRienzo. "Not much can be purchased with one thin dime but think of what many hundreds and even thousands of dimes can do to benefit our beloved church."
Sandra DeRienzo can be reached at the church office at (978) 534-5164 or Pilgrimchurch1743@comcast.net.