by Nikka Hronis
Jan. 29, 2014. In November of 2013, siblings and Boone natives Andrew, 25, and Ashley Mackorell, 22, launched Pennies Making Change, a business turning everyday pennies into jewelry with a meaning and uniting purpose.
The business was started in honor of their late father, Ted Mackorell, who once owned Makoto’s Japanese Steakhouse and passed away on Nov. 14, 2005 after a long battle with brain cancer when Andrew was 17 and Ashley 13.
“So many people have been affected by cancer,” said Ashley Mackorell. “This is a way to join together with all those who have been touched by the disease.”
Mackorell started working at Makoto’s first as a busboy, then began managing in 1982 and eventually purchased the restaurant in 1985. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce awarded Mackorell with the Award of Merit for Development for Makoto’s in 2004.
An ASU graduate, Mackorell was very active and well respected in the community as well as an avid soccer player, playing on the Appalachian State University men’s soccer team as a goalie during his tenure there. Opened in Boone in September 2008, The Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex, or “The Mack” for short, is named in his honor and continues to provide a safe place for the community to practice athletics.
Gwen Dhing, Ted’s friend, Ashley and Andrew’s godmother and current owner of Makoto’s restaurant in Boone, delivered the eulogy at his funeral reminding the guests that anytime they see a penny on the floor it is Ted reminding them to cherish the little things in life:
“His people skills brought out the best in his employees. He made us want to work hard for him and that is why we have many employees who stayed with us for 10 or more years and many who are still employed with us upwards of 20 years. He was a very frugal boss and tried to keep costs down. He encouraged us to watch the power waste, prevent breakages and he even picked up pennies he found on the floor. But he also made sure to show his appreciation of his staff with grand Christmas parties and bonuses. Today we lose not only a boss, but part of ourselves. There is a part of Ted in all of us. Every time we hear a dish break we think of Ted cringing at his money going down the drain. Every time someone leaves a light on we think of Ted feeling his power meter going in circles. Every time we see a penny on the floor we’ll think Ted is looking down on us and reminding us how important the little things in life are.”
After that Mackorell’s loved ones began collecting pennies they would find on the ground, thinking of him and feeling his presence more and more with each penny.
“When I first made my very first penny it was two years ago on Father’s Day and I had to pick up this nasty black mat at work. Under it there was this penny with his birth year on it. I was like come on now, Fathers Day? 1959?” Andrew shared.
Since then, the family has learned that many people have some special meaning related to pennies.
Dhing explained that, “It’s one of those things that means something to everybody. You can all have a penny necklace and it means something different to each of you. It’s the ‘why’ behind it.”
“For me it is a way to remember my dad and carry on his legacy knowing that he looks down on us and is proud of what we’re doing. It’s about remembering him in a positive way and making a change in everything.” Ashley said.
Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary or the year your team won the Super Bowl, everyone has dates that are special to them. Pennies Making Change offers a creative way to carry and keep these memories close to the heart while also donating 20 percent of proceeds to the American Cancer Society.
Pennies Making Change designs men’s and women’s necklaces as well as rings. Customers can customize their own jewelry, picking from a wide selection of chains and selecting a penny from the year of their choice. Pennies date as far back as 1919 and even rare silver colored pennies from 1943 are available when all U.S. copper was needed for shell casings in World War II.
Penny jewelry makes a great gift for a loved one and goes towards an amazing cause, so whether you have a special person to honor, a special penny story, or just a special date, you can be a part of the magic here. Orders can be placed by messaging the Pennies Making Change Facebook page. Also make sure to visit on Instagram, Pennies Making Change, to check out some additional photos and jewelry.
Be sure to spread the news about this incredible fundraiser and heed Ted Mackorell’s reminder: it’s life’s little gifts that make all the difference.