(NEXSTAR) – A Virginia teen says she and her mother are turning an upsetting moment into an opportunity to do good after her father dumped 80,000 pennies on their front lawn last month.
“I just turned 18. When I was in the middle of class, my dad came by. He had rented a trailer,” high school senior Avery Sanford told WTVR. “He pulled up in front of the house and turned the trailer on so it dumped out all the pennies on the grass and my mom came out and was like, ‘What are you dumping in my yard?’ She didn’t know who it was until he shouted, ‘It’s your final child support payment.”
The family’s surveillance camera recorded the moment the SUV – with a landscaping trailer attached – backed up and unloaded its cargo in front of the home.
Sanford said the moment was especially upsetting because “it’s not just my mom he’s trying to embarrass, it’s also me and my sister.” She said she hasn’t been in touch with her father for years.
After using a snow shovel to pick up the piles of pennies, Sanford and her mother decided they would give the money to a worthy cause, according to WTVR, donating to a domestic abuse center called Safe Harbor.
“WOW! What amazing generosity and kindness out of an unfortunate situation!” Safe Harbor wrote in a facebook post Wednesday.
Cathy Easter, executive director of the Safe Harbor in Richmond, told the Huffington Post that the teen and her mother had donated about $850 and news of the incident has inspired others to give thousands more, mentioning Sanford and her mother in the memo form on the checks.
“During the pandemic, incidents of domestic violence incidents have increased, people who have been abused, especially since the beginning, were trapped in their homes with their abusers and couldn’t leave,” Easter told HuffPo. “Since restrictions started lifting, it’s like a tsunami wave of people reaching out for help at a time when federal funding has been cut, so this gift for us has been amazing.”
Lt. Matthew Pecka, with the Henrico Police Dept., confirmed to Nexstar that officers responded to the family’s home the afternoon of May 21.
“Henrico Police documented the incident, however no charges were filed,” Pecka said.
Sanford said that finding the pennies made her confident that her decision to distance herself from her father, although painful, was the correct one, according to WTVR.
“It’s really hurtful and damaging to your kids when you do things like that,” Sanford told said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re young or an adult, the actions of your parents will always have some effect on you.”
The father, who hasn’t been identified, told WTVR over the phone that he lost control of his emotions after nearly two decades of frustration and that he never meant to hurt his daughter.