Lost Change Finds Its Way to Charity Thanks to This Avid Collector

Respect the penny

May 8, 2019


Montreal, Charity

(Ruggiero Scardigno / Shutterstock.com)

Though the adage ‘find a penny pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck’ is a perfectly reasonable excuse to pocket spare change found on the street, Young S. New had another idea when he began collecting coins in Montreal’s west end; donating the change while honoring its Canadian roots.

The 77-year-old has spent much of the last 12 years and his retirement walking around the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighborhood, looking for coins. While some may not give small change much thought, New recalls the lesson he learned from his father when they were living in Korea: “respect the penny.”

Flash forward, and his collection includes currency from nearly every country in the word. And it’s through exploring the stories and symbolism of the coin and paper notes’ designs that he’s able to explore the country’s culture and learn about its history.

Throughout his mission, New has found hundreds of dollars in change, and eventually, he started a club - the Montreal Hainneville Collectors - to spread the camaraderie and learn about the many currencies they found curbside. For several years, part of the money New and his club's members found went to his church and The Gazette Christmas Fund though it’s his passion for history and willingness to teach others about currency that stays with fellow collectors.

"He is very memorable," Minsik Kim said, who joined the MHC with his two young children for a way to spend time with his family. "He loves collecting. He loves Canada. He has a lot of knowledge of other countries too."

Kim added that the club helped his children learn about Canada’s rich history in a fun way and New made learning about money exciting.

Now, New mostly strolls around town when the weather is nice, eager to carry out his latest mission; collecting change for homeless people on the street, mostly older people who seek refuge in local Metro stations and nearby parks.

Maybe a small donation to somebody in need, he said, "will help prolong their life just a little."

For his involvement and volunteerism, in Montreal's Korean community, New was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. Canadian politician, Isabelle Morin was stunned by his kindness when she first heard about the collector.

"Mr. New is somebody you can't forget," she said. "He's a very generous man...to give away the coins that you find, that was the first time I have heard of something like that."

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Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.