Vir­ginia has raised over $20,000 for char­ity— one penny at a time!

Vir­ginia Wain­man has raised tens of thou­sands of dol­lars for the hos­pi­tal that lov­ingly cared for her hus­band—and she’s done it just one penny at a time!

Woman's World - - Start your week with a smile! - —Anne Frank —Diane Ni­chols

Dressed in her coral vol­un­teer smock, Vir­ginia Wain­man chat­ted cheer­ily with a pa­tient as she pushed his wheel­chair down the hall. It was 1984 and her first day vol­un­teer­ing at York Cen­tral Hos­pi­tal in Rich­mond Hill, On­tario. As she en­tered the on­col­ogy ward, Vir­ginia’s heart twinged as she re­mem­bered her time there with her first hus­band dur­ing his fi­nal days bat­tling can­cer. But the ini­tial tug of sad­ness was quickly re­placed by a swell of grat­i­tude for the sup­port the staff had given her through that dif­fi­cult time.

That’s why I am here, Vir­ginia smiled. To give back.

As months be­came years, Vir­ginia did every­thing from es­cort­ing pa­tients to man­ning the in­for­ma­tion desk. But she longed to do more.

And in 2002, when her church held a suc­cess­ful penny fundraiser, she found a way.

“I want to start a Pen­nies for Miles drive for the hos­pi­tal!” Vir­ginia told her vol­un­teer di­rec­tor, ex­plain­ing that there are 84,480 pen­nies in a mile. “So if we col­lect one mile of pen­nies that’s $844.80!” she beamed. “I’ll even roll all of the pen­nies my­self.”

Re­ceiv­ing a thumbs-up, Vir­ginia ex­cit­edly placed a large jar, la­beled Pen­nies for Miles, at the front desk where she was sta­tioned, spark­ing cu­rios­ity— and dona­tions! And with every “plunk” of a lit­tle cop­per coin, she’d flash her trade­mark milewide smile.

Vir­ginia was so up­beat and kind that staff and

pa­tients nick­named her

Sun­shine and Smi­ley. As months passed,

the pen­nies added up, and by year’s end, Vir­ginia had raised her first mile of pen­nies and started on mile two.

“It’s the Penny Lady!” bank work­ers would say, see­ing her wheel in her buggy filled to the brim with hun­dreds of penny rolls.

In 10 years time, Vir­ginia turned in 19 miles and $16,000 worth of pen­nies! Then in 2012, the lit­tle cop­per coin was phased out in Canada. With­out miss­ing a beat, Vir­ginia re­named her mis­sion Coins for Health and be­gan col­lect­ing nick­els, dimes and quar­ters in­stead.

To­day, 80-year-old Vir­ginia has raised $21,971—the equiv­a­lent of more than 26 miles of pen­nies!—for the hos­pi­tal, now re­named Macken­zie Health Rich­mond Hill. Her un­wa­ver­ing ser­vice has also earned her sev­eral awards. Most re­cently, TD Canada Trust con­trib­uted $5,000 to her cause.

“Af­ter 33 years, she con­tin­ues to show up with the big­gest smile,” says Karen An­der­sen, Di­rec­tor of Vol­un­teer & Com­mu­nity Re­sources. “That smile wel­comes every per­son that comes through our doors. I think that is the most im­por­tant ser­vice that she pro­vides. The coins are just a bonus.”

And at that, Vir­ginia smiles. “I’ll help as long as I can be­cause giv­ing back is a gift to my­self,” she says. “I see folks com­ing in for a test or surgery, and they’re al­ways anx­ious, but when I smile at them, they smile back. Whether it’s pen­nies or smiles, lit­tle things can make a big dif­fer­ence!”

I’ll help as long as I can . . . giv­ing back is a gift to my­self

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