A current campaign in Canada aims to raise $1 million in pennies—creatively using change to bring change in the movement against modern-day slavery.
Nathan Purdy, a 23-year-old native of Brantford, Ontario, and his mother, Barbara Purdy, spearheaded the Pennies for Freedom campaign beginning in 2013. The campaign focuses on fundraising and raising public awareness of human trafficking, especially in regards to children who are sold into forced labor or sex trafficking.
The idea of Pennies for Freedom began when Nathan read “Be the Change” by Zach Hunter, a teenage activist working to end modern-day slavery. Inspired, Nathan told Barbara they too needed to help young women and girls who were being trafficked.
Around the same time the Purdys were brainstorming, the Canadian government announced that the penny would be phasing out of circulation—presenting the perfect opportunity for the family.
Since the penny retained its value throughout the phasing out process, Nathan and Barbara decided to turn the penny’s end of an era into a fundraising opportunity.
They started a movement, going to community events and churches to collect pennies. The campaign soon evolved to include accepting other donations and the selling of handcrafted creations, such as using the pennies within fashionable necklaces and bracelets.
The Pennies for Freedom campaign has garnered media attention as well. Nathan was named a 2014 Canadian Down Syndrome Hero for his efforts as an activist, and he and Barbara appeared on the 700 Club and most recently, 100 Huntley Street.
In the interviews, Nathan shares that he dreams of raising $1 million dollars—the equivalent of 100 million pennies.
“I want my voice to be heard for the children that are crying out for freedom. I want to see them set free,” says Nathan in his 2014 Hero Q&A. “We chose pennies because people think they have no value and it is the same with the children, but they are valuable in God’s eyes. It is so awful that they are in human trafficking. I want to help rescue them.”
The Purdys continue to speak at churches and events, spreading their desire to see children free and slavery end. For those interested in contributing, individuals can also bring pennies to any CIBC bank, donating them to a bank account 07772/86-65982 or can peruse the Pennies for Freedom jewelry.
Pennies for Freedom donates the proceeds to two nonprofits, one of them being International Justice Mission.
You can help the justice movement in countless creative ways, donating pennies or by donating non-cash items you might have around. Our partnership with iDonate makes your gift-giving easy, so you can make a major impact right away. Learn more at IJM.org/idonate.