KidCents is an program initiated by Rite Aid pharmacies to promote children’s health. Under this program, whenever a customer makes a purchase, the cost of the purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the change donated to the Rite Aid Foundation. Since 1994 the Rite Aid Foundation has collected over $ 65 million dollars and used it fund pediatric medical services, research and medical equipment for the Childrens’ Miracle Network Hospitals. It has also donated money for disaster relief.
It is a laudable program that has additional benefits. The few cents collected each time do not seem like much to the customer but they can add up to a sizeable amount in aid of a worthy cause. If not for this program, they wind up accumulating in coin jars or piggy banks until there are enough of them to turn in at the bank and convert into dollar bills. Carrying them around in trouser pockets is a bad idea since the sharp edges of the coins rub against the cloth and quickly make holes. I’ve had that happen to me more times than I care to remember.
It’s amazing how fast loose change accumulates. At one time, I must have had eighty to a hundred dollars in change stowed away in a bag. I could have converted it into dollar bills at one shot but that would only mean I’d start accumulating it all over again with each fresh purchase. Instead, I carry about a dollars worth of change and each time I buy something I get rid of some of my loose change. If the cost of my purchases is $ 7.38, I tender a ten dollar bill and thirty-eight cents in coin, getting back three dollar bills. By dint of this, I have reduced my stash of loose change to under twenty dollars worth.
The dollar is not what it used to be and coins nowadays will hardly buy you anything. The one cent coin, the nickel and even the dime stopped being relevant awhile ago and a single quarter is only useful if you want to buy a gumball. The expression ” one thin dime” has heightened meaning these days, so useless is it. Indeed the only use for change is to pay the bill exactly, because the tax on purchases makes the total an odd figure almost never in whole dollars. Gas stations and stores also use cents to give us the perception that an item priced at $9.99 is a whole lot less than ten dollars. I do wish that we could do away with coins altogether and have prices in whole dollar figures( tax included).
The one cent coin in particular deserves to be retired since it costs the government more to manufacture it than the coin is worth. Twenty years ago, I remember meeting a man who was collecting all his pennies because he felt that the rising cost of copper would make pennies worth a lot. By then, he had already collected two giant glass jars full of pennies, probably about five hundred dollars worth. The jars weighed a ton and it was not easy to move them. I wonder how many jars of pennies he has now. However many they are, his “profit” when he decides to cash them is not going to be as much as he thinks.
I really should not be moaning about the loss in value of our coinage because in other countries like India, Italy and South Korea ( to name a few) the problem is more acute. In India, years ago shopkeepers would give you a sweet in lieu of change because they just could not stock enough five and ten paisa coins to make change for customers. And South Korea! I was watching a South Korean TV serial recently and the hero made a dramatic gesture at an auction. He bought back a coffee mug that his wife had donated and paid the whopping price of thirty million won. Thirty million won!! ( GASP). In fact, the exchange rate is approximately 1100 won to the dollar, so what he paid, in terms we can understand , was actually about $ 27,000. Still a princely sum but not anything like 30 million.
But to get back to KidCents…it is a good idea, a smart idea but I wonder what Rite Aid does besides collecting and disbursing the funds. It would be nice if they were to make match whatever they collect from customers.