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Coins Line Veterans Memorial Bridge In Warren For Fundraiser

Family members of long-time United Fund of Warren County board member Barb Tubbs, who passed away in November, line up nickels Saturday on the Veterans Memorial Bridge at Hickory Street in Warren. The nickel event was a fund-raiser for the United Fund of Warren County and resulted in a donation in memory of Tubbs. Submitted photo

WARREN, Pa. — It takes about $374 to cross the Veterans Memorial Bridge at Hickory Street in Warren, Pa., with nickels.

That’s not some odd toll.

On Saturday, the United Fund held a kickoff fund-raiser in memory of long-time board member Barb Tubbs, who passed away in November. The event was sponsored by the Community Foundation of Warren County and the FirstEnergy Foundation.

The United Fund has used potatoes in some fund-raising events for years.

Campaign Kickoff Event Committee Member Pat Evans shared a story at the beginning of the nickel event, Executive Director Lacey Hanson said.

Thousands of nickels are lined up Saturday on the Veterans Memorial Bridge at Hickory Street in Warren. The nickel event was a fund-raiser for the United Fund of Warren County and resulted in a donation in memory of long-time board member Barb Tubbs who passed away in November.

“Back at the turn of the century… It was during the time when the community food drive was happening and people would bring a potato to the theater as an entry fee to get in and see a silent movie,” Hanson said.

Tubbs found that history and brought it to the United Fund.

“The potato event was actually her idea,” Hanson said. “She had done some research into what a fun United Fund kickoff event would be and stumbled across some old articles of the food drive.”

The flip side of that coin was the nickel.

“Businesses would issue wooden nickels as souvenirs to redeem for free drinks etc.,” she said. “We have used the potato theme for several years and decided to focus on the other part of that – which is the nickel.”

“We thought it would be neat to see if the community could collect enough nickels to line up and make it across the Hickory Street Bridge,” Hanson said. “We had over 50 people come and participate in the event.”

Among those participants were Tubbs’ children and grandchildren, Hanson said.

The bridge is about 516 feet long and it takes about 14.5 nickels lined up to make one foot.

That’s 7,482 nickels.

In other words, each participant on average had to bring 150 nickels in order for the effort to reach the goal.

Whether the event reached the end of the bridge or not, the nickels would be collected and donated in Tubbs’ memory.

“Barb touched the lives of a lot of people in Warren County,” Hanson said. “We had a lot of participation.”

The nickels reached the end of the bridge and, “In some areas… people were able to form two lines with nickels,” she said. Hanson did not have a final count as of Tuesday.

Boy Scouts who participated in the event helped with the cleanup and donation gathering – collecting the thousands of nickels from the bridge’s railing.

As a throwback thank you, “Each participant received a wooden nickel and it was redeemable for a free beverage that day from the Arbor House,” Hanson said.

Hanson hopes to make the event an annual one – and possibly expand it.

“We hope to do the event next year and make it even more challenging by going down the sidewalk of one side and back up the sidewalk of the other side,” she said.

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