Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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History

Pennywise Owl and SignWhen Lillian Croy and her friends hatched the idea of Pennywise back in 1961, they hoped that it would "make a difference." Today, over 50 years later, we can look back and reflect on what a truly amazing difference it has made—for Holy Comforter, for the people of Vienna, and for a variety of charitable organizations in our Diocese and around the world.

Just consider how Holy Comforter has benefited from this ministry:

Each year, the church receives a significant pledge from the Episcopal Church Women (the organization responsible for allocating the profits from Pennywise).

Each year, Pennywise funds are given to support Coffee Hour, the Nursery, the Music Program, the Women's Retreat, clergy discretionary funds, the Altar Guild, camper/missioner scholarships, receptions, Vacation Bible School, and many more church programs.

Over the years, monies from Pennywise have been used to support a host of special projects and initiatives, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • 1970s - Sunday School and Bathroom Renovation
  • 1980s - Church Van; Kitchen Renovation; Sanctuary Carpet; Capital Building Fund
  • 1990s - Columbarium; Capital Building Fund; Organ; Choir Robes
  • 2000s - Columbarium; Endowment Fund Contribution; Stations of the Cross; Sanctuary Improvements; Kitchen Ice Maker; Cloister Shop Renovations
  • Recent contributions such as the new Chapel chairs, remodeling of the Lillian Croy Room, and new blinds in McGill Hall and the Lillian Croy Room

Pennywise Stillman RakingEach year, a percentage of the profits from Pennywise is allocated to support a number of worthy organizations in our community, diocese, and the world. For example, this past year's budget listed contributions to local charities such as FACETS, The Lamb Center, Shepherd Center, and Samaritan Ministries; Diocesan programs such as the Bishops' Discretionary Funds, Jackson Feild House, and Covington Boys' Home; and International programs such as Five Talents, the Haiti Micah Project, Episcopal Relief and Development, and Global Teams Rwanda. An additional percentage is specifically allocated to support projects dedicated to the accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

But, Pennywise isn't just about money! The organization has always worked hard to be a good steward of ALL its resources - even the items that do not sell within the prescribed time. Bags of leftover clothing are collected each week by the American Rescue Mission in D.C. Cosmetics and toiletries are donated to Mt. Carmel House. Usable housewares and decorative items are gathered by a volunteer and donated weekly to Purple Heart, and cell phones go to the Police Department. Over the years, we have contributed: leftover baby clothes to Fairfax Hospital's maternity ward; evening gowns for prom dress giveaways; books for a tutoring program; stuffed animals for emergency relief personnel to use on their calls; glasses to the Lion's Club; and vouchers to social service agencies and local clergy (for use by their clients and parishioners in need).

Pennywise AwardsWhat makes this all happen? It's the volunteers, of course. Since its inception in 1961, Pennywise has been an all volunteer organization—not one paid employee! It's an amazing, impressive record of accomplishment! Recently, a volunteer worked to compile an informal tally of just how much volunteer effort it currently takes to operate Pennywise for one year. The total was an astounding 12,000 hours! That's almost 33 hours per day, for each day of the year. This is truly a major commitment to mission and ministry.

As we reflect on more than 50 years of memories and look ahead to our future efforts, please join with us as we pray:

Thank You, God, for inspiring every one of these dedicated Pennywise volunteers. Thank You for the continuing success of our endeavor and guide us in the days to come. Help us to continue to do Your work within our parish, our community, and our world. And, Thank You, too, for placing Lillian Croy in our midst, when and where her "bright idea" could take root and grow.

Gratefully, in Your Name

Amen