VISTA, Calif. — Never underestimate the power of giving, even when it comes to a penny. In this Zevely Zone, I visited the Boys & Girls Club of Vista with lunch in hand.
Interesting sidebar, this was the first time I've ever been told to show up to a shoot with a Diet Coke and a cheeseburger. Waiting for lunch inside the Boys & Girls Club of Vista, sat a man I recently met named Art Kaliel. "One cheeseburger, one Diet Coke," I said as I handed over my special delivery. "God bless America," said Art without missing a beat.
Five years ago, Art took it upon himself to launch a One Million Penny Drive to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Vista. "You have to give back, give back as much as you can," said Art.
Saving a cent at a time may sound like a waste of time, but Art says pennies have a sneaky way of adding up. "If every person in Vista saved one penny a day for a year that would be $365,000," said Art. This gregarious man has a lot of friends and Art has convinced many of them to collect pennies wherever they go.
Friends like Stacey Smith-Bacon who told us she's been collecting pennies for a couple of years even though she was never a member of the Boys & Girls Club. "I was not. I was a Girl Scout which is close enough," said Stacey. "I like to give back." Every time Stacey tops offs her tub she delivers it to the Boys & Girls Club of Vista.
We watched her hand over her collection to Susan Arias who is the Vice President of Development at the Boys & Girls Club of Vista. "Thank you so much. We really appreciate it," said Susan who is grateful for Art's Army. "He is a fantastic volunteer, the fact that he spends his time going out into the community to raise money for us is a wonderful thing. It's a gift," said Susan. She took us on a tour of the club and showed us how donations make a difference. We watched children playing sports, gardening and learning music.
I asked, "Has Art been able to raise a million pennies?" Susan told me, "Not yet he's raised about two hundred thousand pennies or $2,000 so far." A million pennies will someday total $10,000.
We circled back to where Art was enjoying his burger and Diet Coke. The table was filled with containers filled with pennies, dimes, and quarters. "Some people put all kinds of money in there," said Art who says collecting spare change has a way of opening the donation flood gates. "If you get them on to a schedule of always contributing pennies, this one penny could lead to someone donating a boat, you never know," said Art.
I don't usually bring burgers to interviews, but meeting this man was worth every cent. After all, see a penny pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck!
RELATED: Origami Wish: "Please end COVID-19"
For the record, Susan says the Boys & Girls Club of Vista would be happy to receive a check or online donation too! If you'd like to help their program, click here.
Watch more Zevely Zone content below: