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PARISHIONERS HOPE PENNY DRIVE ADDS UP TO $500,000 AND HELPS SAVE OLD CHURCH

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Parishioners at St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church are hoping pennies from heaven will provide the $500,000 needed to make repairs to the 121-year-old church.

After Mass on a recent Sunday, parishioners opened a drive to raise at least $500,000 - much of it in pennies - for desperately needed repairs.They hope such a sum will convince the Archdiocese of Baltimore that their 300-member church should be taken off the "endangered list" of 16 churches targeted for reorganization or closure.

"It would sure give us a better position of negotiating from," said Erich W. March, campaign chairman.

He said the church chose pennies because "it's a cultural phenomenon; people hoard pennies."

Parishioners will ask neighborhood stores to set up penny collection jars and also will stand outside the church every Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to accept donations. Harbor Bank of Maryland will count the money and keep the account.

"If you close this church, you have a dead community," said Eddie Fentress, 66, who lives around the corner from St. Ann's.