I stopped at a gas station early in the morning and bought a lottery ticket and a bottle of pop (soda, in case you aren’t from around here). I handed the cashier a few loose dollar bills and when she gave me change, I got back a dime, a nickel and two pennies. I usually just use my debit card and don’t handle much money these days because, to me, it’s more convenient. But a lot of places won’t take debit cards for lottery purchases, so I had to fish some paper money out of my pocket. So, being out of the habit of seeing it, I just stood for second and stared at the 17 cents.

Not a lot of money, to be sure. And I found myself wondering just what use was it to have those four coins. If you multiplied that amount by 882,352.941, you could possibly purchase a Ferrari Testarossa. Multiply it times 462,458.824 and you could buy a house (average estimate) in Ashland. And if you multiply it times 2,029.41 (again, average) you can feed one individual for a month. So, you see, 17 cents by itself really isn’t much — unless you multiply rather than divide as I did to get those figures.

There are 20,382 people in the city of Ashland, according to recent statistics. If everyone gave 17 cents, we would have $3,464.94. With that money, we could purchase roughly 6,929 cans of vegetables, if we catch them on sale. We could purchase roughly 632 pairs of men’s socks or about 866 pairs of ladies socks. A major chain — right now — is advertising winter coats for $16. We could buy roughly 216 of those coats for all those combined amounts of 17 cents. So, you see, the negligible amount becomes powerful when joined by other negligible amounts.

Of course, these are just figures floating around in my head. But it does illustrate a point, and that point is together we can do great things. And more importantly, we can do necessary things. Things like feeding our neighbors, making sure that no one freezes in the winter and helping those who need it get a leg up on life. It’s as simple as this — most of us will never own a Ferrari, and many of us might never own a home. But if we work together, then just maybe no one will have to walk; and if they do, they will have shoes to cover their feet.

What really gets me about this scenario is that I wouldn’t really miss the 17 cents, even if I threw it away every single day. Or lost it. I found a quarter in the couch cushion the other day that would have remained there indefinitely if the dog hadn’t pulled the cushion out of the chair. Sure, I would notice $3,464.94 if it went missing, but not 17 cents. So, my challenge to everyone is to pick an organization like Helping Hands in Greenup or River Cities Harvest and go “lose” 17 cents in their “cushion.” You won’t miss it. And if enough of us do it, we will certainly notice how much 17 cents can change.

Reach CHARLES ROMANS at cromans@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2655.

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