Knowing that the Central Bank of The Bahamas will be discontinuing one-cent coins as legal currency, and the Bahamian penny will no longer be accepted at the register by the end of the year, relegated to the annals of history, Indya Joseph, 11, came up with a brilliant idea – she would engage in a penny drive to collect as many pennies as she can through December, and use the money to help feed people in need.
Indya, who will be entering sixth grade, began collecting pennies earlier this month. The pennies will be deposited to the bank and the funds earmarked to go to a feeding organization to be determined.
“I keep seeing on the news that people have lost their jobs, and I wanted a way to help,” said Indya. “I know pennies are soon not going to be good anymore and we can’t use them anymore, so I said if I could collect enough pennies, since that is the easiest thing to give, I thought that enough money could be raised to help feed people.”
Indya spoke to her mother, Vashti Cox-Joseph, about her thoughts, which took her mother by surprise.
“One day she came to me and said, ‘Mommy, it sounds as if so many people are hurting; plenty people lost their jobs and I wish there was a way I could help.’ And then we didn’t hear anything about it anymore,” said Joseph.
“I was stunned, because first of all, I didn’t even know she was listening to the news,” said Joseph. “You don’t think kids pay attention to the news and we always have the TV on listening to the latest COVID updates and what’s going on with COVID. I know she knew about COVID, but I was stunned and I was surprised.”
Indya eventually returned to her mom and her dad, Andrew Joseph, with her idea to collect pennies because she felt they would be the easiest thing for people to part with. She told her mom she wanted to collect the pennies for the remainder of the year and use the money to help feed the needy.
Joseph said she is proud her daughter has compassion, and thinks about other people.
“I was proud to know that my daughter is such a compassionate person to think about other people. We have food here and she’s thinking that other people are hungry. I was touched,” said Joseph.
Indya’s penny drive, which started earlier this month, began in her own home. The Josephs, like many families, have a penny jar that they do nothing with. Those pennies have now been allocated towards Indya’s penny drive.
Indya, president of her school’s K-Kids (youth arm of Kiwanis Club of Nassau), a service organization for primary school children, approached her advisor with her idea and hosting it in conjunction with them. They agreed to assist.
While Indya has no idea of how many pennies she currently has, she said people have been contacting her to collect their pennies to help her in her cause.
“Me and my mom drove around, and people just gave us pennies – like a lot.”
Indya said every penny counts.
As she prepares to return to school virtually, Indya is happy she was able to think of the initiative, and hopes her peers will join in on the effort.
“I’m proud of myself because I want to help people. I love to help people,” said Indya.
Her mom, who said Indya is a soft-natured person naturally, believes Indya’s giving and altruistic nature took root as a result of witnessing what her parents, who are heavily involved in their church, do for others.
“She sees when we give care packages to people. We’re Christians, we go to church and she hears be nice to people and things like that. So, she has a heart for people [and] I guess that’s due to the influence of us parents.”
She said her daughter has often told her about the different mean things she saw people do at school or who was being bullied, and she would ask Indya if she helped them.
“One incident, a friend of hers was being bullied, and the girl was quiet and staring at the bully and the tears were about to [fall]. And [Indya] went to the girl and pulled her away from the situation. So, she has a soft heart and is very involved around school.”
Joseph said her daughter not only has a heart for others, but is also academically driven. Indya had a 97 percent on her last report card, and has been on the principal’s list multiple times. It’s an honor her mom said her daughter strives for.
“When she first started Xavier’s, she was on the honor roll. In third grade I told her she came second in class, she was like, ‘What?’ She didn’t even know that they placed kids – and she was like that’s unacceptable basically. From then on, she’s been on the principal’s list.”
People wanting to donate pennies to Indya’s penny drive can contact 456-4335 or 676-0896.