Pennies From Heaven or How Not to Donate Loose Coins

Paul Thomas Swann
3 min readMar 24, 2022
Photo by Chris Briggs on Unsplash

I’m six years old.

And like normal six-year-olds, I am fidgety, shifting my little body back and forth in a wooden church pew in a community called Plateau, which, by the way, most people mispronounce.

I’m clutching coins in my hands.

They’re mostly pennies, a few nickels, and some dimes. But, no quarters. I would have kept those.

A minute earlier, my mom had handed me the now tightly clutched coins in preparation for, “The Collection.”

This was not a particularly joyful occasion. Judging by the looks on peoples’ faces, I’d say it was more like a romantic breakup.

“Goodbye. I’ll miss you, little dollar. Write me!”

Then, the obligatory prayer ended and the men, dressed in compulsory grey suits and ties, began their menacing march down the aisles to the tune of Star Wars Imperial March (yes, I know Star Wars wasn’t released until years later, but it fits).

Some men walked to the back of the auditorium and others to the front. Next, they would pass the silver metal trays until they met close to the middle. Then they’d double-time it to a secret room and count the take!

By now, the coins were weighing heavily in my sweaty little hands.

Nervously, I watched the serious-faced men pass by our row.

Something didn’t feel right.

One of the men was named Paul and wore 1960s style black-framed (military BC) glasses. I remember liking him because of his obvious good taste in first names.

As the men passed our location, a sudden and horrible thought sent my six-year-old brain into high-anxiety overdrive: ‘what if they don’t stop at our row?’

‘And, what? Wait a minute! Why aren’t they stopping?’

‘What if they don’t pass the silver plate to us?’

These thoughts raced in and out of my small developing mind.

There was the real possibility that I’d be stuck with a handful of sweaty coins. I could not accept this change in plans (or in my hand).

As the column of collection soldiers passed, I stood to take action. But because I…