For 45 years, Otha Anders has cherished every penny he’s come across.
Whether Anders, 73, found it on the street, exchanged a nickel or dime for a few pennies with his students, or got three or four back with his change, every single one went into a five-gallon water jug.
Each one, he said, reminded him to the thankful, Anders told the Monroe News-Star.
“I became convinced that spotting a lost or dropped penny was an additional God-given incentive reminding me to always be thankful. There have been days where I failed to pray and more often than not, a lost or dropped penny would show up to remind me.”
As you can imagine, such diligent collection over four decades can add up to quite a bit of money. Over the years, Otha saved up half a million pennies in 15 five-gallon water jugs, totaling $5,136.14, and weighing 2,800 pounds, ABC News added.
Anders, who’s from Louisiana, cashed in his pennies late last month and will use the $5,000 to help pay for a dental bill.
It all began 45 years ago, when Anders found a penny on the ground. Otha recalled that the single coin reminded him to pray and give thanks. As that simple philosophy became a habit, he stopped spending pennies and instead dropped them into a water jug.
“I would never spend a penny. I would break a dollar before giving up a penny. If I was at someone’s house and I found (one), I would pick it up and I would keep it. I will always tell the person that if it was a quarter, I would give it back, but since it is a penny, I’m keeping it.”
Anders worked as a supervisor for in-school suspended students, and they helped him collect even more pennies, saving up the coins and then selling them to Otha. It was his habit never to let anyone give him pennies without being compensated. He wasn’t interested in making money but received joy simply from collecting.
Saving pennies even turned into a competition with a close friend, Jack “Domino Kid” Brown, who saved nickels.
“Jack saved nickels as I saved pennies and every nickel that passed through my hands I would save for him,” Otha said. “He did likewise with pennies for me. Our exchange became competitive by each trying to outdo the other and consequently our collections; his nickels, my pennies began to multiply.”
Anders loved saving up pennies so much that when, in the 1970s, the government offered a $25 bonus for every $100 worth of pennies exchanged, he held fast to his water jugs. Fast-forward to today, when Otha learned his homeowners insurance coverage doesn’t exchange to his pennies and he’d have to let them go if he wanted to keep the money.
So Anders called his bank and warned them he’d be bringing in quite a haul. Otha rolled in his 15 jugs of pennies into the bank on a dolly, much to the surprise of the bank’s senior VP, Ryan Kilpatrick. He said nothing could’ve prepared him for the sight.
“It’s shocking, for sure. I would say he’s done a lot of collecting over the years.”
Five of Otha’s friends and family helped him bring in the pennies, loading them from the back of a pickup into the bank’s coin room.
There, Anders remained for five hours as his carefully accumulated coins were poured into a coin-counting machine, one plastic bucket at a time. Otha sat beside the machine the whole time, watching bank employees change the coin bag every 20 minutes to accommodate more and more pennies.
When all was said and done, Otha’s pennies had turned into more than $5,000 cash. And if his insurance had continued to cover his collection, Anders said he would never have stopped picking up pennies.
“I wanted to fill five five-gallon water jugs. That was the goal, but I couldn’t stop…. If I hadn’t turned them in yesterday, I was not going to stop.”
[Image via YouTube Screengrab]