The Penny House Dream

Nikita with Josh Morrison, a Canadian teen who raised more than $100,000 in four years

Nikita with Josh Morrison, a Canadian teen who raised more than $100,000 in four years

Everybody has a dream—whether it’s to become a prime minister or just get some ice cream after school.

Joshua Morrison, 17, had a dream to raise 10 million pennies ($100,000) to build a home for a low-income family. After years of fundraising and hard work, his dream has come true. The “penny house” is now in the early stages of building.

Six years ago, Josh and his dad went into a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a home improvement store and donation center run by the nonprofit organization. They were there to buy a sink. Josh, then 11, also noticed a collection of pennies. “I instantly felt like God was telling me to help out with that,” he told me during a recent interview at Tim Horton’s in Uxbridge, Canada, where he lives.

Josh set a fundraising deadline of four years. Many people doubted that he could reach his goal of $100,000. He was determined. He raised money at his school and other nearby schools. He collected money from neighbors, got publicity from local newspapers, and placed cans in stores so that people could donate extra change.



Josh’s fundraising efforts began to yield results. Still, there were challenges. Four months shy of his deadline, he was $30,000 short of his goal. He decided to hold a Family Fun Fair and Spaghetti Dinner in Uxbridge, which is in the province of Ontario. The event raised $19,000.

“I didn’t care how long it took me,” Josh said. “I would raise $100,000.”

With three weeks left, an anonymous company called Josh’s house, offering to match every dollar raised up to $18,000. That helped Josh reach a total of $124,000 before his deadline. “The momentum just kept going, and we went right over,” he said.

Habitat for Humanity is now building “Josh’s Penny House” in the city of Oshawa, along with 24 new townhouses. Josh has helped with some of the construction, as have other volunteers. He will choose the family that moves into the unit.

Next year, the 17-year-old will head to college in British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province. He plans to study biology.

Even though he was just an 11-year-old kid when he started fundraising, Josh was able to send a powerful message across the world. No matter how old you are, if you have a dream and are willing to do anything to achieve it, it can come true.

Photo courtesy of the author