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How this dark moment outside a Henrico home set off a positive chain of events

Posted at 10:25 AM, Dec 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 10:25:39-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- From the darkness, a bright light. More than six months after a dark moment outside a Henrico County home set off a chain of events that resulted in positive changes, a Richmond-based non profit is thanking the people who made it all happen.

Earlier this year, a Virginia dad dumped 80,000 pennies outside his 18-year-old daughter's home and told her mom it was his final child support payment.

"It's not just my mom he's trying to embarrass, it's also me and my sister and it's upsetting that he didn't consider that before he did that," 18-year-old Avery Sanford told CBS 6 reporter Jon Burkett.

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The WTVR.com story went viral, not only due to the video of the man dumping the coins, but also, and more importantly, because of what Avery and her mom did with the money. They donated the $824 payment to Safe Harbor, a Henrico-based non-profit that helps survivors of sexual and domestic violence and human trafficking.

In response to Avery's kind gesture, donations began pouring into Henrico from around the world.

"Avery’s single donation of $824 resulted in over 300 donations totaling over $50,000 to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence and human trafficking," Mary Maupai, Development Director at Safe Harbor, said when reached via email this week. "We are beyond grateful for this support. In the midst of being notified of funding cuts, this support is a bright light. We are honored that Avery Sanford and her mom chose Safe Harbor. As Richmonders, they understand Safe Harbor’s work, and the difference we have made in the community."

Mother, daughter donate thousands of dumped pennies to domestic abuse center

The influx of unexpected donations has helped Safe Harbor:

  • Purchase new play therapy figures, sand trays, and toys for the group's playroom.

"This playroom provides a safe place for children who have witnessed domestic or sexual violence," Maupai said. "Our counselors use play therapy to help children process, verbalize, and express the trauma they have witnessed or experienced."

  • Purchase new bakeware, kitchenware and outdoor furniture for our human trafficking shelter.

"Clients will now be able to bake cookies and other treats in the shelter and the additional outside sitting area will provide clients with space to relax and have counseling sessions," she added.

  • Upgrade laptops for staff to replace aging devices, the oldest of which were bought in 2014.

Earlier this year, Avery Sanford's mom Raven Sickal sent CBS 6 statement in response to the outpouring of support:

"When I read about the donations, I sobbed," said Sickal. "It made both of us very emotional. This reach has been amazing and the thoughtfulness and kind gestures have been beyond anything we expected. We just wanted to turn this around and that's exactly what we did."