Avery Sanford decided to turn the negative experience into one that will have a positive impact by donating the money to a domestic abuse center.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 14, 2021. It has since been updated.
When an estranged father had to pay the final child support to his daughter, he decided to be anything but gracious. He chose to pay the $800 he owed as pennies that he dumped on the front yard of her Virginia home where she lives with her mom. There were a total of 80,000 pennies that he emptied into the yard using a rented trailer. The 18-year-old Avery Sanford chose to turn the situation around from a clearly negative experience to one that will have a positive impact by donating the money to those in need.
A Virginia dad dumped 80,000 pennies outside his 18-year-old daughter's home and told her mom it was his final child support payment -- but Avery Sanford and her mom decided to turn a negative situation into positive action. | https://t.co/PsSzzHwft6 pic.twitter.com/2mS8sk3p28— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) June 12, 2021
Sanford is a senior at Deep Run High School and was in the middle of her classes when her father decided to pay her a visit along with her child support. While she was not around to witness her dad dumping the pennies, her mother was. Speaking to WTVR she said, "He pulled up in front of the house and turned the trailer on so it dumped out all the pennies on the grass and my mom came out and was like, 'What are you dumping in my yard?'" Sanford added, "She didn't know who it was until he shouted, 'It's your final child support payment.'"
Behold the sorriest man in creation!— Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) June 12, 2021
Virginia Teen Donates 80,000 Pennies to Shelter After Dad Uses Them as Last Child Support Payment https://t.co/J80nTDvS8e
This cruel stunt by her dad impacted Sanford deeply. "It's not just my mom he's trying to embarrass, it's also me and my sister and it's upsetting that he didn't consider that before he did that," she said. After the arduous task of picking out the pennies, Sanford and her mom decided to turn the bad situation into a good and positive one. They agreed that donating the last child support payment left to them in such a manner would be the best course of action. They donated the $800 to Safe Harbor, a center that "supports those who are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence, sexual violence, or human trafficking."
Cathy Easter, executive director of Safe Harbor, agreed that donating the money was indeed making the best of the situation. She told The Washington Post, "They were able to turn such a negative experience, and what her daughter witnessed, into a positive. They found a way to turn this around and not feel devastated about it." Since the story broke, the shelter has experienced a spike in donations and has received nearly $5,000 so far. Many people have cited the family and their story as the reason they decided to make the donation.
This guy dumped 80,000 pennies in front of his daughter's home as his final payment of child support. 😯🤨— Local 12/WKRC-TV (@Local12) June 13, 2021
She took those pennies and turned his act of anger into a positive for families in need, donating it to domestic abuse victims: https://t.co/okNL43pXOZ 👏 pic.twitter.com/FDhKfXFEz5
"Turning around and donating that money to moms and children in need, I feel like that really turns this situation into a positive. You can learn from it," Sanford said. This incident and her father's behavior also reassured her of the decision she had made of staying away from her dad whom she hadn't spoken to in many years. She has no interest in maintaining a relationship with someone who means to disrespect her mom. "It's really hurtful and damaging to your kids when you do things like that. It doesn't matter if they're young or an adult, the actions of your parents will always have some effect on you," Sanford stated.
Sanford's mom, who remains unidentified reported the incident to Henrico Police. When Sanford's father, who has also not been identified, was asked about the reason he dumped the pennies he said it was because 18 years' worth of frustration had built up and got the best of him. He told WTVR that the last thing he wanted to do was cause a bigger rift between him and his daughter. But Sanford has made her intentions of not continuing a relationship with him very clear.