FCSN Coin Bank Project: the Power of Small Ideas

Written by Shelley Li, FCSN Voices Youth Reporter

It is often said, “From small beginnings come great things.” For ten years, FCSN Co-Chairperson Jim Chiao collected spare coins in a large plastic bottle at his house. As the coins began to accumulate, Chiao started to consider what to do with them, and finally after much thought, he came up with a brilliant idea, which gave rise to FCSN’s Coin Bank Project. 

For a little more than a month in Fall of 2021, FCSN clients, mainly ages twenty and up, in the adult day program, sorted and rolled up coins that were then donated to FCSN. They used coin sorting trays that upon shaking, sorted the coins into quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies as well as coin tubes that helped roll the sorted coins into rolls for deposition. Although FCSN had coin recognition and money counting classes in the past, this project provided a new and engaging approach that allowed clients to work directly with a large quantity of coins. “Some of our clients may not be interested in participating [in money management classes] because standard academic math that we do [in the classes] is not always interesting to everybody,” Director of East Bay Adult Day Programs Vivian Chao said. “But when you have a new approach, it’s a lot more interesting.”

Client sorting coins using a coin sorting tray

In addition, this program was highly inclusive. “We have clients who are able to do calculus and high math and also clients who have difficulty recognizing numbers, but we can include all clients in such an activity and have them participate and enjoy themselves,” Chao said. Some clients practiced counting the coins in preassembled rolls, while others assembled the rolls of coins themselves after being told the amount of coins that needed to go into each roll. The high level of inclusivity allowed all clients to develop valuable monetary skills, providing them with basic knowledge of personal budgeting and savings. “I really think that they can take this and apply it to their own lives, and maybe be more independent [in dealing with money],” Chao said. 

Client assembling coins into rolls for storage 

In the future, FCSN hopes to continue the project and even expand it to include younger groups of students. Additionally, they hope to gather more tools for clients to use, such as a coin rack to more effectively keep track of how much money goes into each coin roll. Recently, there has even been a plan to use the donated and sorted coins to purchase Lego and K’Nex sets for the clients in a new class at the center. These highly adaptable activity sets will not only help clients learn how to follow directions through building models but will also allow them to explore and expand their creativity. 

However, this project is currently on hiatus because all the donated coins have been sorted. In order to continue this project and help more FCSN clients develop crucial monetary skills, if you have any spare coins on hand, please consider donating them to FCSN. Let’s work together to nurture this small idea and bring it to new heights!

Check out Jim Chiao’s personal story on this coin project: https://fcsnvoices.org/2022/01/22/what-to-do-with-extra-coins/ 

If you would like to donate spare coins, please contact Vivian Chao at vivchao@fcsn1996.org 

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