To support afterschool programs across the country, jcpenney has launched a nationwide philanthropic campaign that invites customers to turn small change into “Pennies from Heaven” by rounding up their purchases and donating the difference to local organizations, including the Penobscot Bay YMCA. Donations made through Pennies from Heaven will provide children in need with access to life-enriching afterschool programs at the Y.

“With budget cuts in education, there’s never been a more important time to support afterschool programs as a valuable community resource that helps to bridge the education gap,” said Penobscot Bay YMCA Executive Director Troy Curtis in a news release. “As local families prepare for the back-to-school season, we hope they will keep our mission in mind so that the social and academic learning opportunities we provide after school will continue to be available to Knox County students.”

National research shows that one out of four students in the U.S. is on their own between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day. The Pen Bay Y provides children and teens with a safe and nurturing environment around caring adult role models. Combining play with academics, the Y’s afterschool program promotes creativity, a love for learning, social and emotional development, and character building. The nation’s Ys are a leading resource for parents looking for educational, meaningful and fun activities outside the classroom.

The Penobscot Bay YMCA is one of 1,100 afterschool organizations matched with a local jcpenney store that will benefit from the proceeds raised during the Pennies from Heaven campaign. As the leading corporate advocate for the afterschool issue, jcpenney is leveraging a cause marketing campaign to bolster national support through broadcast, print and online advertising as well as an engaging digital experience on jcp.com/pennies. The first Pennies from Heaven event kicked off July 31 and will run through Aug. 27.

“For more than a decade, jcpenney has been deeply committed to helping kids spread their wings by making it possible for more students to participate in life-enriching afterschool programs,” said Lori Beaulieu, store manager for Rockland’s jcpenney store. “When we leverage the power of a penny to create opportunities for learning, we can make a positive difference in the lives of our future leaders.”

For more information related to the Pennies from Heaven initiative, visit jcpenneyafterschool.org.