Youth save pennies to fight AIDS in Africa


Youth in Birmingham, Mich., hope a penny saved is a life saved through their donation of 1 million pennies to Africa University’s Faculty of Health Sciences in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

The Penny Project, an interfaith effort to collect one penny for each of the 23 million Africans living with HIV/AIDS, was created by the youth of First United Methodist Church, who decided to try making a difference in Africa’s HIV/AIDS pandemic.

“We call it the day God showed up in the dining room,” said youth pastor Jeff Nelson, referring to a brainstorming lunch meeting the day the idea was born.

Since summer 2005, the youth have sponsored a penne pasta supper, a World AIDS Day dance, a “Cent-O” de Mayo celebration and other events. Additionally, the youth and their parents collect pennies in plastic cups. Other churches and organizations partner with the group.