Why One Canadian Man Spent Over A Decade Picking Up Spare Change

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People these days could care less about a stray penny or nickel on the sidewalk, but one Canadian man has dedicated over a decade of his life to collecting spare change.

77-year-old Young S. New has been looking out for coins on the street for the last 12 years since his retirement. New, who immigrated to Canada in 1987, doesn’t understand how people can be so careless towards coins. “It is the property of Canada. It’s part of the Canadian economy,” he told CBC News. “It costs about 11.2 cents to make a nickel. Losing one nickel means 16.2 cents is gone,” he added.

On frequent walks through the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighborhood of Montreal, New not only stays fit but also keeps an eye out for loose change. Over the years, he’s collected hundreds of dollars in change but he hasn’t kept a cent of it for himself. “It’s not my money. I just found it on the street,” he said.

New has donated the found money to his church and to Montreal’s Gazette Christmas Fund. Members of his coin-collecting club, Montreal Hainneville Collectors, help out too, while also learning about the importance of coins from New. For all of his efforts, New was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

As he gets older, New’s walks are less frequent but when he does make the time to go out, he still keeps an eye out for change. Now, instead of donating his findings to charity, he gives whatever he finds to older homeless people that he sees regularly with the hopes that it “will help prolong their life just a little.”

New’s respect for coins comes from his father, who told him to “respect the penny.” New says, “Every cent counts because somebody who is one penny short of a million dollars is not a millionaire.”