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A Man Paid for his College Education with Donated Pennies! In 1987, Mike Hayes of Illinois wrote a letter to Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene asking for everybody who read the column to donate just 1¢ each for the purpose of sending him to college. His thinking: Who needs a penny? Everybody has at least a few of them lying around, right? His thinking paid off…literally! In just a month, Mike received 2.8 MILLION pennies, or $ 28,000!