By Kristin Alexander, Red Cross Volunteer

Those lucky pennies in your wallet are lifesavers.

Since 1998, Coinstar has allowed customers to give their spare change to the Red Cross. Just head to a kiosk at your local grocery store, drop in your nickels and dimes and receive a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.

All that pocket change adds up. To date, the Red Cross has received $3.2 million from Coinstar’s Coins That Count program.

“Coinstar believes in the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,” said Jennifer Margolis, Coinstar senior marketing manager.

In addition to supporting disaster responses across the country, the funds paid for five new Red Cross Biomedical vehicles last fiscal year. The vehicles are operated out of Yakima and are used to collect and transport blood to area hospitals. This year, the Red Cross is using a portion of the money to buy a new Humanitarian Services vehicle based in Tacoma. Volunteers will drive it when responding to home fires and other disasters and when installing fire alarms.

Becky Fontaine, Red Cross Regional Philanthropy Officer (left) and Jennifer Margolis, Coinstar Senior Marketing Manager (right)

“We were happy to support the purchase knowing the vehicles are being used by volunteers who provide shelter, food and hope to those impacted by disasters large and small across the Northwest Region, as well as help families and communities to be better prepared; provide reliable and safe life-saving blood products and provide a continuum of care to our military members from when they enlist through veteran status,” Margolis said.

Becky Fontaine, Red Cross regional philanthropy officer, said Coinstar’s kiosks provide a way for parents to teach their kids about philanthropy.

“The money goes in, then magically, in the eyes of the child, it leaves the machine and ends up at the Red Cross. The parent can then explain to the child what the Red Cross does,” she said.

That’s a valuable lesson.

Coinstar’s headquarters are located in Bellevue, Wash., and the company operates kiosks nationwide. Visit Coinstar’s website to find a participating kiosk near you.

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