Seven-year-old Joanna Lushman is already working on doubling the 2,800 pennies she donated to Daren White during this past summer's Relay for Life. Joanna hopes to have 5,600 pennies by the time the event rolls around this June, and has donated her hair to Locks for Love in the past. Raissa Tetanish - Amherst Daily News
AMHERST - A local seven-year-old has certainly earned her nickname of Penny Girl.
Joanna Lushman collected 2,800 pennies last year and donated them to Daren White at the annual Relay for Life.
This year, the petite, soft-spoken girl has already collected more.
"I've been finding them around the house and have friends and family giving them to me," said Joanna, who added it was both her and her mom's idea to collect the pennies.
"I want to double the amount of pennies and give them to Mr. White again."
So far, Joanna, along with her mom Denise and dad Alfred, has counted 2,875 pennies, but the family isn't done yet.
From an ice cream bucket to Ziploc baggies, and even her old swear bucket, Joanna has hundreds of pennies.
"It's pretty amazing and we are very proud of her," said Denise.
"When she gave them to Mr. White last year, she was so proud of it."
After giving her pennies to her former physical education teacher - a cancer survivor - Joanna walked laps with White.
But Joanna's donating doesn't stop there.
Before she started collecting pennies, the young girl cut her long hair off for a good cause, donating it to Locks for Love.
Joanna said she wanted to do it because there might be children her age that lost their hair because of cancer treatments.
Being caught off guard with Joanna's contribution last year, White said the first thing he did was cry.
"She was inspired," he said. "She cut her hair off and donated it...she really is an angel on earth.
"I've always said my heroes are kids."
White wanted everyone at the Relay for Life last year to know what Joanna did, so he made sure she spread her story.
"She has a soft spot and is compassionate for helping people. I held her pennies all night and walked more last year than I have before," he said, adding he dragged Joanna around and had to get her to tell her story because he was too emotional.
"She shows everyone that in the future, there is hope."
Anyone wanting to donate their pennies can contact Joanna's parents at 660-2915.