That's how one cash-strapped Michigan woman obtained the 84,000 pennies she used to construct a gigantic replica of a 1-cent coin, which won her artistic acclaim and allowed her to share her inspirational story.
Wander Martich says she only started building her massive coin after she was forced to pinch pennies when she went through a divorce, lost her home to foreclosure and lost her job in 2006.
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That's when Martich's daughters -- ages 6 and 9 -- gave their mom the loose change they had been saving in their piggy bank.
Martich put her kids' pennies in an empty water jug, which she continued filling with $20 of pennies from each paycheck after she found a job.
Last year, the Grand Rapids, Mich., resident decided to use those pennies to make some real change.
"Art was the only way I could tell a mass of people my story," Martich said in a statement through Ripley's Believe It or Not, which acquired her huge coin. "I wanted to share the message that anyone can do this, you just have to start somewhere. What matters isn't how much you make, but how much you save."
Eventually, she turned to a bank to get coins straight from the U.S. Mint.
"I needed very shiny pennies to create the highlights," she said. "I wanted to use the different natural shades of pennies to create the image."
After working more than 10 hours a day for three months, Martich entered the work -- titled "Helping Mom One Penny at a Time" -- into the ArtPrize contest in Grand Rapids, where it placed sixth and caught the eye of Edward Meyer, Ripley's vice president of exhibits and archives.
"Martich's giant penny was the very first piece I saw at ArtPrize 2010 out of over 1,600 entries," he said in a statement. "I saw it in the distance and drove right up to it with my jaw on the ground and spent the next half-hour just awestruck at the magnitude of the piece and the story of its creation. I knew instantly I wanted to add it to the Ripley collection."
Martich's sculpture will be displayed at one of Ripley's Odditoriums.
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