EDC Blog: Spare change? Two cents | Opinion


A audacious prediction: winter will end. Occasionally. Soon. The warm-hearted residents of St. Croix Valley, Wisconsin are finally going to shed their puffy winter coats for something lighter. And in doing so, they will likely leave pockets full of coins in their clothes from September to April. You do not believe it ? Check spring-summer-fall fashion. Jingle-Jingle. Or check the center console of primary and secondary vehicles, then missing license tabs for one or two permanently parked vehicles. Check the family curse pot, couch, and tote coffee mugs.

Why check? There seems to be a nationwide shortage of coins. Blame it on COVID or the continued movement towards a cashless society. There is no doubt that the shortage is directly linked to the pandemic. This has disrupted shopping habits, from in-person transactions to debit or credit. Several trade associations representing grocers, retailers and banks have asked the US Treasury to help get US consumers to put their hoarded coins into circulation. In mid-2020, the Federal Reserve reportedly restricted coin orders from banks and credit unions, further tightening supply. An awareness campaign helped, but parts availability tightened again in 2022.

A college professor may argue that the parts shortage is more of an imbalance than an actual shortage. The professor may insist that the United States has a lot of coins, but they don’t cycle the economy fast enough. Perhaps it is a slowdown in the circulation of coins?

Without access to change in the registers, some of the big-box retailers asked their customers to pay by credit or debit card or exact change. Another retailer rounded up purchases to the next dollar to avoid giving change. In defense of the retailer, consumers were asked if they wanted the roundup to go to charity or on an in-store loyalty card.

Back to pockets, consoles and curse pots. The people of St. Croix Valley are very generous. The children’s college funds can wait. Ditto for the five-dollar coffee funds and the Saturday garage sale circuits. The big idea this week is to collect loose change from the Holy Cross Valley and direct it to charities of choice.

Think of organizations that rhyme with pantry, food bank, family resource centre, United Way, early childhood development or habitat for humanity. A little goes a long way, but a few families doubling up or a neighborhood working together would make a huge difference. Any amount helps. The food bank says a $1 donation has the purchasing power to buy eight dollars worth of food through its network. Jingle-Jingle. Even the college professor agrees that $4.25 in loose change means $34 worth of food through the shopping network (check the math, professor). Habitat for Humanity could use loose change to buy a two-by-four or paint for a bedroom in someone’s first home. Remember that an affordable home is where jobs sleep. A standard two-by-four is perhaps a pocket and a half of change.

Let’s loosen the imbalance of the St. Croix Valley coin supply. By doing so, the valley becomes a better place than it already is. Jingle-Jingle. Let’s do this.

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