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When you meet Phillip Ingram it’s clear his past influenced his present. He admits he grew up very different from the life he’s leading now.

“Tough neighborhood, not a lot of positive things,” he said. “No one I grew up with had a dad.”

And yet the 38-year-old Newport Beach janitor says what he learned first-hand from his humble beginnings in Philadelphia was the golden rule.

“It was ingrained in me as a child that people were supposed to help each other,” said Ingram.

He knows the people who work alongside him at Hoag Hospital are helping others all the time, but he realized they could do even more.

So he came up with the idea to ask for a penny believing it could multiple exponentially.

They call him the penny man.

“So I feel like a lot of people excited about it,” said Ingram, who founded Powerful Pennies.

In a week those pennies added up to $1,400 which will be donated to a local Boys & Girls Club.

Now Ingram has more than a penny for his thoughts — Hoag has started a payroll deduction plan for its 6,500 employees. Donations start at 50 cents and go up to $5.

Ingram hesitated telling anyone about his idea, but knows now loose change adds up.

“Sky’s the limit,” he said. “I don’t try to put a cap on it or a ceiling or floor on it I’m just happy to do anything for anyone.”

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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