A mini Coupeville Wharf collection box to raise funds for projects at the historic public structure was kicked in any money inside stolen in early August. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Wharf donation box ravaged by thieves twice

A community group raising money for the Coupeville Wharf is about halfway to its goal despite the setback of two separate thefts this summer.

Pennies for Preser-vation, a program started by the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association, has been collecting funds since early 2015.

The program started with collection jars placed in businesses around town and last summer a collection box that looks like a miniature wharf was installed at the entrance of the historic structure.

The mini wharf was ravaged by thieves prying open a metal frame and lock early this summer and then the collection box, which is wood, was kicked in over the weekend of the arts and crafts festival.

Vickie Chambers, executive director for the association, said the box is checked for donations regularly and just the night before this most recent break-in more than $100 was pulled from it.

“Who knows how much was in there with the busy weekend,” she said.

As a result of the break-in, the association is being more vigilant to check the box daily and is looking into installing security cameras.

One business owner downtown, John Rodriguey of Toby’s Tavern, has already pledged $200 to the cause. Chambers said the association is hoping to find another business owner to match that.

Three other community groups have also come forward and offered to create a metal version of the mini wharf. That project is underway.

Since its inception, Pennies for Preservation has raised roughly $5,500 designated to fixing stairs that provide public beach access at the wharf.

Those stairs were closed in 2014 by Port of Coupeville staff due to safety concerns.

When Pennies for Preservation began, the goal was to collect one-and-a-half million pennies for specific projects at the wharf.

“I think it’s a unique and fun way to raise money,” Chambers said. “It’s a great way to educate people and bring attention to the needs at the wharf.”

Chris Michalopoulos, executive director for the Port of Coupeville said fixing the stairwell will cost about $11,000.

It’s a project he’s eager to see completed, he said.

“We’re working hard to go to that goal,” Chambers said.

“We’ve been working on it all summer.”

Chambers and other members in the group are hoping that reviving discussion about the project will prompt more people to step up and donate.

“With Pennies for Preservation, 100 percent of money collected whether it’s in the jars or the box goes toward this identified project,” she said. “There’s no administrative costs.”

• For more information about Pennies for Preservation, go to www.coupevillehistoricwaterfront.com. Donations can also be made directly through the website.