Susan Cramer, 53, has a lot of hobbies.
She bowls every Saturday. She connects with friends and family on social-media websites. She participates in fantasy football with her brother, checking The Vindicator’s sport section during the season.
But her latest hobby has become more of a cause. Cramer, who was born with cerebral palsy, is collecting pennies for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Cramer has worked at the Meshel MASCO workshop in Boardman for 20 years. The Meshel workshop, overseen by the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities, has an annual penny drive for St. Jude’s that ends in March.
“All she wanted for Christmas was pennies,” said Susan’s mother, Ruth Cramer. “... It just tickles her when people give her pennies.”
So far, Susan has collected $207.72 and still has more pennies to count — likely bringing her total closer to $250.
To put that in perspective, in January 2012 the workshop clients, their families and staff had collected about $250 all together, according to a past Vindicator story. The final 2012 tally was $600.
Ruth said Susan wants to help children who are in need, and she can relate to some of their struggles.
“When Susan was born, they performed last rites. They didn’t think she would make it,” Ruth said.
But Susan did make it, graduating from The Rayen School and then working at the Society for the Blind and Disabled until it closed. “She stayed home with us for a while, but she got bored,” Ruth said.
That’s how Susan ended up working at the Meshel MASCO workshop in Boardman, a place she loves. Although Susan said she relates more to the staff than clients, her mother added that Susan enjoys being there.
“Those kids show a lot of love,” Ruth said. “I’ve asked if she wants to go to a different workshop, and she says no.”
This is Susan’s first year collecting pennies through the workshop, and she said she plans to set a goal next year of at least $400.
Ruth said her entire family is inspired by Susan, who uses a wheelchair to move and an alphabet sheet to spell out words so her meaning is clear.
“She’s the strongest of all four of our kids,” Ruth said.