Twenty-five years ago, when Teddy Gross went to pick up his 4-year-old daughter, Nora, from the apartment next door, his neighbor retrieved Mr. Gross’s keys from a jar jammed with unfilled penny wrappers. Mr. Gross, who was working on a children’s story about a young bear and a coin collection, had an epiphany. He organized Common Cents.
Now Nora is studying in Philadelphia for a doctorate in education. Mr. Gross still lives on the Upper West Side, conducting annual Penny Harvest in New York City schools, which have raised $10 million over the years for local charities.
But for the second consecutive year, Mr. Gross said, Common Cents is on the brink.
“We cannot pay the trucking company to pick up the pennies,” he said. “I’m down to four staffers and calling people for donations to keep the doors open.”