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If you’ve ever traveled to Rome, there’s a good chance you’ve stood with your back to the Trevi fountain and tossed a coin over your left shoulder, hoping for good luck and to ensure that you’ll make a return trip to the Eternal City. It’s a long-standing tradition that brings in big money — about $15,000 a week!
So, where do the Trevi fountain coins end up? According to Travel + Leisure, the fountain is closed for an hour each day so the coins can be swept out of the fountain and given to Caritas, a Roman Catholic charity. From there, the charity distributes the money to the needy. The fountain’s “wishing coins” were also used to open a low-cost supermarket in 2008.
Fountains in the United States — like those at the Bellagio resort and casino in Las Vegas, Minnesota’s Mall of America and Disney World in Florida — are also popular with well-wishing coin tossers, although they don’t bring in anywhere near the almost $1 million in coins in the Trevi each year. Still, the coins benefit the needy.
For example, the Las Vegas Bellagio last year gathered nearly $12,000 in coins tossed in the 8-acre lake that contains its popular fountains, Travel + Leisure reports. The money is collected by a vacuum from the floor of the lake every few months, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and donated to charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
Travel + Leisure says the $2,000 a month in coins collected from fountains at the Mall of America are donated to charitable and nonprofit organizations, while Disney World’s fountain coins — which totaled $18,000 in 2014 — are donated to children in foster care.
Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain at the center of Grant Park may be one of the largest fountains in the world, but according to Travel + Leisure, it’s far from the most profitable with well-wishers — bringing in a mere $200 a year.
Do you feel better knowing that the coins you throw into fountains are most likely benefiting those in need? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.