When this Virginia teen’s estranged dad dumped 80,000 pennies on their front lawn as his final child support payment, she and her mom decided to turn the upsetting incident into an opportunity to help people in need.
Avery Sanford, a senior at Deep Run High School, said that she was in the middle of class when it happened. She had just turned 18, but instead of a birthday greeting, her dad decided to give her something else.
In footage recorded on their home’s security camera, the man can be seen driving an SUV with a landscaping trailer attached to it.
He pulled up in front of the house and turned the trailer on so that it dumped tens of thousands of pennies on the grass.
Avery, who hasn’t spoken to her father in years, said she was surprised and hurt by his actions.
“It’s not just my mom he’s trying to embarrass,” she told WTVR. “It’s also me and my sister and it’s upsetting that he didn’t consider that before he did this.”
Although she didn’t witness the shocking moment in person, she said her mom, Raven Sickal, was around during the dumping.
Raven came out while it was happening and didn’t recognize the man at first. She asked him what he was dumping on her lawn, and when the man responded with, “It’s your final child support payment,” she then realized who it was.
The vindictive incident hurt their family, but instead of focusing on their pain, the mother and daughter decided to turn the negative moment into something good.
Avery and her mother donated every penny to Safe Harbor, a non-profit shelter that helps survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and human trafficking.
“Turning around and donating that money to moms and children in need, I feel like that really turns this situation into a positive one,” she said. “You can learn a lesson from it.”
But as their story went viral, Avery and her mom’s generous act of donating $850 quickly multiplied.
Safe Harbor’s online donation page suddenly blew up, and they began receiving an influx of donations locally and internationally.
Many of them were accompanied with notes like:
“This is a donation on behalf of Avery Sanford. Way to take the high road. What a strong and beautiful gesture you made.”
”I also want to support the Sanford family and their generosity in the face of a very toxic act. Peace!”
Mary Maupai, the Development Director at Safe Harbor, said that she’s never seen anything like this in her 20 years in fundraising.
However, she’s glad that the organization will be able to help more people with the massive donations.
When Raven and Avery heard about the outpouring of support for the non-profit, they couldn’t help but cry happy tears. This kind of positive response is exactly what they wanted to get from the incident.
“When I read about the donations, I sobbed,” Raven said. “It made both of us very emotional. This reach has been amazing and the thoughtfulness and kind gestures have been beyond anything we expected. We just wanted to turn this around and that’s exactly what we did.”
Raven reported the May 21 incident to Henrico County Police but didn’t file any charges.
WTVR spoke with Avery’s father in a phone call and asked him about the incident. He claimed his actions were “were the result of 18 years of built-up frustration.”
He also admitted that his “emotions got the best of him” and said that “the last thing he wanted to do was to put a further wedge between him and his daughter.”
But according to Avery, that’s exactly what happened.
“It’s really hurtful and damaging to your kids when you do things like that,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re young or an adult, the actions of your parents will always have some effect on you.”
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Kudos to Avery and her mother for turning a sad situation into a positive one!
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