Minot banks experienced a run on pennies in early December.
The cause was the "Penny Wars" at MLT Vacations.
The two-week competition among employees to raise money for a favorite charity by producing pennies ended this week with a $8,670.27 donation to the Salvation Army in Minot.
Majs. Don and Jane Kinkaid of the Minot Salvation Army accept a symbolic check for $8,670 from Shelley Knight and other employees of MLT Vacations at the company’s Minot office Wednesday.
Some members of the winning Penny Wars team with the pennies they collected are, from left, Renee Bergman (standing), Andrea Killmer, Marla Nelson, Glenda Sorensen, Annette Neshem, Chanda DeCent, Judi Frye, Frank Sposito, Delton Myers and Mike Blessem.
A bucket of pennies holds some of the 216,444 coins collected by the winning team in MLT’s Penny Wars this month.
The winning team of about 200 of MLT's Minot employees collected 216,444 pennies, totaling $2,164.44.
The object of the competition was to collect as many pennies as possible, which counted as positive points. Teams could sabotage opponents by placing other coins or paper money in their jars, which counted as negative points. Each team had a charity that it was raising money for, and the team with the greatest positive balance claimed all the money raised in the contest for its charity.
"We didn't raise the most money but we had the best strategy," winning team leader Shelley Knight said.
Team member Delton Myers suggested using the team's resources to acquire pennies rather than sabotage opponents. The strategy worked as his team wasn't the top money raiser but it did have the largest stash of pennies.
The team discovered that going into a bank and asking for $50 or $100 in pennies is about as welcome as a hold-up, though.
"They were limiting how much they would let us have because we were taking all the pennies," Knight said.
"We went from bank to bank," team member Renee Bergman said. "We would walk out with $5 worth but we would get in the car and go to the next one."
They also cleaned out their own pockets and the pockets of all their friends and relatives.
Teams raised money for use in acquiring pennies or sabotaging opponents by hosting fund-raising events. The winning team held a soup luncheon and sold tickets for pieces of duct tape at an event in which employees could tape a supervisor to a wall. Employees agreed taping a supervisor provided the most fun in the contest, which generated friendly but intense competition.
"I just thought there was a lot of enthusiasm by all the employees. There was a lot of buzz," said employee Andrea Killmer.
The competition featured seven teams, of which four were based at the Minot operations center. The other three were in the Minneapolis headquarters or had a mix of employees from the two offices. MLT has about 600 employees.
"Our employees really had fun - really enjoyed the whole spirit of the season. The Salvation Army does such great things for our community. The employees really got excited," Knight said.
She said her team selected the Salvation Army because employees had volunteered with the organization previously and were touched by the impact of the organization's Christmas basket program.
MLT presented Majs. Don and Jane Kinkaid of the Minot Salvation Army with a symbolic check Wednesdsay to represent its donation.
"This might be the single largest gift we get all year, and we are humbled," Don Kinkaid told the employees.
The Salvation Army prepares food baskets for 400 families and provides Christmas gifts for 600 children.
"You can imagine the dollars that are needed to fund that kind of program, and we are struggling a little bit this year. This will allow us to be able to have some extras," Kinkaid said.
Some MLT employees will be assisting with the packing and delivery for the Salvation Army.
As for the banks strapped for pennies these days, they will be happy to know that the end of the contest means they can have their pennies back. MLT employees will be delivering the 1,299-pound Christmas present any day now.