A heap of pennies, some loose and some in rolls, with dollar bills and other coins scattered throughout

A friendly challenge to support a local charity recently erupted into an all-out fundraising battle among staff and residents of Community Strategies’ programs in Massachusetts.

Thirty-eight residential programs divided into clusters, each headed by a residential director, waged a “penny war” to see which group could collect the most pennies to donate to Best Buddies in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that provides one-to-one friendship, integrated employment, and leadership development programs for individuals with and without developmental disabilities.

The rules of engagement were simple: each penny a group collected counted as one point. But the participants could also sabotage their competition’s cash drives by dropping nickels, dimes, and quarters in other clusters’ collection jars to count as five, 10, or 25 points off the total from their penny count. Paper bills could count either as positive points in a cluster’s own jar, or negative points if dropped in an opponent’s jar.

Large plastic bags filled with assorted coins on a rolling cart

An alliance formed early on, with several groups bombarding the cluster headed Janet Kachadoorian, a formidable fundraiser, with silver coins to keep her group from walking away with an easy first-place victory.

When the dust settled on the copper, silver, and green mounds of cash, Pete Mundell’s cluster scored a commanding win with 56,500 points, followed by Tammy Laehn’s group with 19,600, and Janet’s with 10,400.

More importantly, though, the staff and residents raised a combined $1,441 to donate to Best Buddies.

Amazing job CSMA, we could not be prouder!