In November 1987, Fred Skau, a bartender on Polk Street, put an empty glass
jar on his bar with a sign asking for donations for people with AIDS. In the
following month leading up to Christmas, other bars joined the effort and
over $10,000 in coins was collected. The Every Penny Counts project was
born. Over the next several years, AIDS Emergency Fund's Every Penny Counts
expanded exponentially. Over 500 jars were placed in restaurants, bars,
retail stores and small businesses. An army of volunteers canvassed the
neighborhoods emptying jars and bringing the coins to AIDS Emergency Fund.
Other volunteers sorted, counted and bagged the coins.
In 1995, the Every Penny Counts Campaign began teaching Bay Area School
children about the importance of giving back by collecting spare change. In
addition to helping people who are battling AIDS pay their rent and medical
bills, students learn about the financial struggles faced by people fighting
AIDS. So each school year, between September and February, Bay Area schools
challenge each other to collect the most change in jars in their classrooms.
The campaign culminates each year around Valentine's Day, when several
schools are hand picked to receive special recognition and cash donations
from Wells Fargo.
Request Your Own Jar!
To request your own jar for your home, office or business, please contact:
Kelly Rivera Hart
Every Penny Counts Coordinator
Volunteer for Every Penny Counts
To volunteer as an Every Penny Counts Project volunteer please email: