So he had 57,000 pennies…

Max and Eric Rosen
Max and Eric Rosen

What would you do with 57,000 pennies?

Until Feb. 5 that’s how many Eric Rosen, of Bennington Heights Dr., had stashed away.

He’d been collecting them since 1986, just under seven a day for 27 years.

How did this hoarding passion start?

For the “heck of it” while living in Montreal, he says. Then it became an “obsession,” so much so that if he found a penny on the street he would add it to the collection.

Rosen says that he came by all the pennies “honestly”—never exchanging a quarter for 25 pennies or even a nickel for five pennies. “My policy was every penny goes into the bottle. Every penny had to be spontaneously come by.”

Only two pennies did not go into the bottle, and they were used to pay a bill in a store.

Rosen stored the pennies in a winemaker’s bottle, which holds about 23 litres. As the collection became bigger the bottle was harder to lift and became a challenge to move to new homes – eight times over the years.

Then one day the unthinkable happened. The gigantic penny bottle broke when it was about 80 percent full!

Rosen said he was “sort of heart broken” and realized he had no clear exit strategy for the collection.

But the federal government now phasing out the penny presented a “great opportunity” to donate the collection to a charity.

At the suggestion of his branch of Royal Bank of Canada, Rosen contacted Free the Children, which has a penny drive called We Create Change, available until this spring.

Elizabeth Kellett, program manager, partner relations, said, “Each $25 increment provides one person a permanent source of water for the rest of their life in the countries we work in.”

“What I like is the basic symmetry of a fairly thrown away item to make a meaningful donation,” said Rosen.

In early February he turned in his penny collection and got the official amount: $575.

But now he’ll have to find something else to collect. In the meantime, though, he thinks he “needs a break from collecting”.

But meanwhile, there is more to this story: In a bit of symmetry Kellett lives in Leaside with the family of our former reporter Geoff Davies.

And how did Leaside Life hear of this story? Rosen’s eldest son, Max, suggested he call us. Thanks Max!