A Virginia man’s decision to dump thousands of pennies on his ex-wife’s lawn as his final child support payment is being turned into some positive change, thanks to the generous actions of the woman and her teenage daughter.
Avery Sanford spoke out about the nasty experience this week, telling local station WTVR that she had just turned 18 when her father rented a trailer last month to cart his final payment, in the form of more than 80,000 pennies, over to her and her mother’s home to dump in front of their yard.
“It is really hurtful and damaging to your kids when you do things like that,” Sanford told the Richmond-based station of his action. “And it doesn’t matter how old your kids — it doesn’t matter if they’re a young child or an adult. The actions of your parents will always have some effect on you.”
Though her father’s behavior didn’t add up, what did, she said, was donating it all to a local domestic violence shelter, ultimately turning a sad situation into a positive one.
“It’s just incredible,” Cathy Easter, executive director of Safe Harbor in Richmond, told HuffPost Thursday of the donation.
Easter said Safe Harbor received around $850 from the teen and her mother, but once word spread about their experience, others started to reach out and donate online as well. As of Thursday, the organization has received nearly $5,000 on the women’s behalf.
“A friend of theirs matched the exact amount and then other people started making donations in their honor,” Easter said. “In the memo line, they’re saying they’re doing this in honor of Avery and her mom.”
For Safe Harbor, which helps victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking, Easter said the donations couldn’t have come at a more critical time.
“During the pandemic, incidents of domestic violence incidents have increased, people who have been abused, especially since the beginning, were trapped in their homes with their abusers and couldn’t leave,” she said. “Since restrictions started lifting, it’s like a tsunami wave of people reaching out for help at a time when federal funding has been cut, so this gift for us has been amazing.”
Easter also expressed amazement at the mother and daughter’s ability to take a positive stance when faced with such hostility.
“I think about Avery and her mother taking this really terrible and demeaning experience and turning it into something positive,” she said. “To me, it’s just a beautiful thing that they have done together as a mother and daughter.”
Sanford’s father told WTVR off camera that his emotions got the best of him and that the last thing he wanted to do was create more of a divide between him and his daughter.
The teen said she hasn’t spoken with her father in years and expressed disappointment in his actions. Still, she said, “you can learn a lesson from it.”
Her mother contacted Henrico County police and filed a report over the incident. A representative with the police division confirmed the incident to HuffPost but said no charges were filed.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.