Avery Sanford said she didn’t know what to think when she saw a landscaping trailer pull up outside her Virginia home last month.
Moments later, more than 80,000 pennies were spilling into the street and on her front lawn.
“My mom came out and was like, ‘What are you dumping in my yard?’ “ Sanford, 18, told WTVR of the surprise visit by her dad, who she said she hasn’t spoken to in years. “She didn’t know who it was until he shouted, ‘It’s your final child support payment.’ “
Despite the “embarrassing” display, the teen and her mother got the coins cleaned up and decided every penny would go toward a good cause. Her dad’s final payment, Sanford said, will now benefit women and children who survived domestic abuse.
Safe Harbor Shelter, located in Richmond, offers support to those who’ve experienced domestic violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking and other traumas, according to the shelter’s website. Officials with the nonprofit confirmed Sanford’s gift to The Washington Post.
“They were able to turn such a negative experience, and what her daughter witnessed, into a positive,” Cathy Easter, executive director of Safe Harbor, told the newspaper on Thursday. “They found a way to turn this around and not feel devastated about it.”
A spokesperson for Henrico County Police confirmed officers responded to reports of a “domestic-related incident” at the Sanfords’ home on May 21 and noticed a “sustainable amount of pennies” dumped outside. That’s when the teen’s mom informed police that her ex-husband had stopped by.
“Henrico Police documented the incident, however no charges were filed,” Lt. Matthew Pecka told McClatchy News in a statement.
Sanford said the incident left her feeling hurt and embarrassed, but she was happy she was able to help someone else.
“Turning around and donating that money to moms and children in need, like I feel like that just really turns the situation into a positive one,” she told WTVR. “You can learn a lesson from it.”