MILLIGAN COLLEGE, TN (Nov. 15, 2013) — The Milligan College P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library successfully concluded its Million Pennies campaign this fall, collecting $10,000 to benefit the ongoing renovation of the library.
During the last three years, the library has encouraged students, faculty and staff to empty their pockets and purses of spare change and to pitch their pennies into a Lucite box on the library’s front desk in hopes of raising one million pennies―$10,000. This amount is the minimum donation required to have a room in the library named for someone.
Jeff Harbin, Milligan alumnus and user services librarian, came up with the Million Pennies campaign after he attended a meeting about Milligan’s Forward Ever capital campaign, which successfully concluded in 2011 after raising $28 million.
“There are people, and I was especially thinking of students, who hear the multi-million dollar goals of a campaign and think they can’t do a lot to contribute,” Harbin said. “I wanted to create a way for people to see that they can make a difference, even with a small donation.”
The library also added an incentive to the campaign by promising students that if they met the million-penny goal, they could vote on the name of a study room in the library. Harbin announced it in Milligan’s chapel service, created fliers and promoted it on social media.
“The Million Pennies campaign was launched concurrent with Forward Ever to engage our users―particularly students―in this project in a way that was meaningful, accessible, and concrete,” said Gary Daught, director of library services.
More than 200 people donated to the campaign.
“I am thankful for these donors and for the overall spirit of the Million Pennies campaign,” said Milligan President Bill Greer. “Million Pennies is a reflection of Buff Nation at its best, working together to make great things happen.”
Gabe Rees, a sophomore business administration major, was one of the many students who contributed.
“As a student worker and avid studier at P.H. Welshimer Memorial library, I felt inclined to give to something that impacted my college experience so directly,” Rees said.
Clint (’95) and Adele (’96) Holloway were two of many alumni who also joined the effort.
“The average American family is said to have $90 in change lying around,” said Clint, a member of Milligan’s Board of Advisors. “I wanted to test that theory and found we had about $110. So each semester when I come to board meeting, I bring our change.”
Clint also encouraged fellow alums to take up the cause.
“Recently, one young alum lamented on Facebook that as a recent grad, she did not have a lot of money to support the school and asked what she could do instead,” Holloway said. “I suggested the Pennies project.”
In addition, the library hosted several fundraisers including book sales and donations from some of the authors who participated in the 2012 “Celebrating Milligan Authors” reading and reception during Homecoming.
The final donation was a check that was written on October 25, the first day of the 2013 Homecoming festivities.
“We had some alumni come in and ask our student worker how much we needed to end our campaign,” Harbin said. “We knew it was down to under $100. They wrote a check for that amount, and it was over.”
So what happens now that the million pennies have been counted and are in the bank?
“We are going to gather a pool of names of people we would like to honor, and as promised, our students will get to choose the name we use for a study space on the first floor,” Harbin said. “We hope to have this done by the end of the academic year.”
Harbin is pleased that the Million Pennies Campaign gave students a sense of ownership of the library.
“What we really do as a library is to connect people to information and provide a comfortable place for them to access that information,” Harbin said. “Million Pennies tapped into our students’ desire to make this a better place.”