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Monday, March 1, 2010

Local Groups Turns Westboro Baptist Church Protests Into Fundraising Opportunity

“Pennies in Protest” Raises Money for Local Jewish and LGBT Organizations

Richmond, VA (February 26, 2010)  In response to the upcoming protests by the Westboro Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, a local group called Pennies in Protest is calling all Richmonders to donate money to the targets of the anti-gay and anti-Jew protests.

Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), based in Topeka, Kansas, is an anti-gay church known for picketing funerals of AIDS victims, stomping on American flags, and protesting gay and Jewish organizations around the country.

On its website, WBC has announced its plans to protest at four locations in Richmond: The Virginia Holocaust Museum, the University of Richmond Hillel organization at the Jewish Community Center, the Jerusalem Connection, and Hermitage High School because the school allowed the creation of a gay student group.

A local group called Pennies In Protest has started collecting money for every minute that WBC is protesting Richmond organizations. Founded by Richmonders Patience Salgado (aka, Jessica Lucia, Sara Heifetz, and Sarah Allen-Short, the group hopes to turn the WBC’s protests into something beneficial for the targets of the hate attacks. The Richmond group got the idea from a synagogue in Manhattan that raised more than $10,000 for charity during a recent visit from WBC.

There is so much debate in the community about whether to counter-protest this group or just ignore them,” said Sarah Allen-Short, the spokesperson for Pennies in Protest. “What better way to turn their mission of hate into a mission of love than to ensure their very presence results in donations to the organizations that they wish to harm. We've raised over $1000 in less than 12 hours. It's really catching on, and I'd love to raise as much as we can by Tuesday.”

In light of the messages that will be spread by WBC on Tuesday, we need to offer Richmond a kinder, more hopeful way forward,” said Patience Salgado, founder of and organizer of regular “Guerrilla Goodness” actions around the country. “We have the power to make their visit to Richmond result in goodness, positive energy, community support, and money for some of the best organizations in our city.”
Pennies in Protest has set up a Facebook page ( and a website to collect donations ( but encourages Richmonders to give any way they feel comfortable, including giving directly to the organizations impacted by Tuesday’s protests. Money collected on the Pennies In Protest donation page will be split evenly between The Virginia Holocaust Museum, The Weinstein Jewish Community Center, the Jerusalem Connection, and the Hermitage High School Gay Student Union.

Those of us that started this group have ten children among the four of us,” added Jessica Lucia. "Ignoring expressions of hatred is not something we want to model for our children and we want to live in a world where hatred is met with an outpouring of love. We encourage everyone to find the responses that suit them best, whether through active protest, financial support, sharing links through social media outlets, talking to children about tolerance, or simply making March 2nd a day of special focus on acts of kindness."

"I'm looking forward to standing across from the WBC protesters on Tuesday with my two-year old and my own sign thanking them for helping us raise money for the causes they hate," said Sara Heifetz. "I'm teaching creative nonviolence by example."
For more information, please visit Pennies in Protest on the web at or contact Sarah Allen-Short,

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