Roseville High School juniors and National Honor Society members Cody Quiroz and Lily Kalcec are among the youth volunteers  sorting, cleaning and counting coins donated by US Auto Jan. 4.

Roseville High School juniors and National Honor Society members Cody Quiroz and Lily Kalcec are among the youth volunteers sorting, cleaning and counting coins donated by US Auto Jan. 4.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Loose change adds up to thousands for local charity

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 11, 2019

 Roseville High School National Honor Society students, including Joe Zerilli  and Andrew Wikarski in the foreground on the left, and Makayla Summerall and Gabby Waderlow on the right, all seniors, sort coins found in automobiles at  US Auto of Sterling Heights to support programs at Feeding the Need, a  Roseville-based nonprofit organization that helps the homeless population.

Roseville High School National Honor Society students, including Joe Zerilli and Andrew Wikarski in the foreground on the left, and Makayla Summerall and Gabby Waderlow on the right, all seniors, sort coins found in automobiles at US Auto of Sterling Heights to support programs at Feeding the Need, a Roseville-based nonprofit organization that helps the homeless population.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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ROSEVILLE — Anyone who’s ever paid for a meal using what they fish out of the cushions knows how far some loose change can go. 

For US Auto, a self-serve auto parts pulling firm in Sterling Heights, the money found in the hundreds of vehicles processed in the last year added up to more than $5,545. As a result, the company decided to donate what it recovered to Feeding the Need, a Roseville-based nonprofit.

“This is the first time we have donated coins like this,” said Kevin Johnston, of US Auto. “We collected it for a little over a year. We typically give it back to employees. Since they don’t take it when they find it, we sort of promise to give it back to them later. This year, the employees said they wanted to give it to charity. We didn’t know who to give it to, so we made some calls to local charities and nonprofits, and they kept pointing us to Cheryl (Becigneul, of Feeding the Need).”

Feeding the Need provides a variety of services to the local homeless population.

“We are a community kitchen,” explained Cheryl Becigneul, Feeding the Need’s founder and executive director. “We serve an average of 900 meals a month, and clothe them as well. Sometimes it’s more. We served 750 meals on Christmas alone. We also do urban gardens with students from local schools, and our biggest project is the Homeless to Housing initiative where we put people in permanent homes. We’ve done 53 families so far. The housing program is what most of the money from the collection today will go toward.”

On Jan. 4, Feeding the Need partnered with student volunteers from local high schools to sort, clean and count the money from US Auto. Jet’s Pizza donated 450 slices for lunch for the volunteers, and First State Bank agreed to process the money and provide counting machines.

“First State Bank is bagging and helping count the coins,” said Amy Persyn, the First State Bank marketing director. “We also got an armored car to transport the money. … We have worked with Feeding the Need before, and they were a recipient of our charitable giving program. We love working with them.”

Becigneul said getting the students involved was an important aspect of the program, and Feeding the Need has worked with many of the schools before on other projects.

“We like to get the students involved,” she said. “If you teach them now, it sticks. It’s far easier to teach someone a new behavior than correct an old one. Programs like this not only help them learn how to give, but it helps keep them on a path to prevent them from becoming homeless themselves in the future.”

Schools that participated included L’Anse Creuse High School-North, Roseville High School and Dakota High School.

Greg Baur, the football coach from Dakota High School in Macomb Township, was on hand with 10 of his players to help out. They said they were happy to aid in a worthy cause.

“Cheryl’s grandson plays on our team, and she called us to see if we could help out,” Baur said. “Our school’s National Honor Society was already helping out, so we wanted to lend a hand. We are taking all the coins US Auto gets from cars they clean, and we’re sorting them, cleaning them and counting them.”

Becigneul and her associates said this program will make a difference in the lives of many people who need a helping hand.

“We love what we do and we love the community,” said Becigneul. “We would love to see more community involvement.”

For more information on Feeding the Need, visit www.macombftn.org or call (586) 945-7090.

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