Refurbished parking meters turn small change into big impact for young dancers in Lynchburg

Change for Change Caring Meters presented $3,800 to the Kuumba Dance Ensemble

A Lynchburg initiative is creating change from change.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Do you have spare change laying around and you don’t know what to do with it? Well, Change for Change Caring Meters uses refurbished parking meters to collect that small change to make a big impact in Lynchburg.

When the organization collects $1,000 and then receives matching gifts from sponsors, they donate the money to a local group in need.

“We just love being able to give to these smaller efforts in the community that make a big difference,” said Libby Fitzgerald, co-founder of Change for Change Caring Meters.

On Thursday, the organization presented $3,800 to the Kuumba Dance Ensemble, a West African tradition.

“It makes me feel happy and it just makes me feel bright,” said 11-year-old Tahelah Pennix on why she enjoys dancing.

“It just really feels happy, and it gives off a good vibe,” said 10-year-old Eliza McLeroy.

Kuumba Dance Director Sheron Simpson says the donation will help buy new costumes and pay for the performers to attend a convention in North Carolina, where Simpson says the best traditional dancers gather.

She says many of her dancers come from low-income households and wouldn’t otherwise have this opportunity. So, she not only teaches dance -- but also a way of life.

“They know that if they’re positive, they’re going to have something out of life and that their life is more important than just somebody saying, ‘Let’s do something wrong,’ when they’ve been taught how to do right,” said Simpson.

Pennix says without the program, she wouldn’t be as active.

“I’ll just be at home, sitting down and playing with my phone,” she said.

The 11-year-old appreciates the donation and will be able to attend the convention this Fall.

“You can go places, and you get to meet new friends, and you learn,” said Pennix.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.