What is a Compassion Coin?
Drawn from the tradition of "challenge coins," Ridgefield’s compassion coins are a form of recognition. More impactful than a simple “thank you” and more subtle than a trophy or medal, compassion coins are a way to personally acknowledge someone and show your admiration and respect for their kindness, compassion or generous actions.
A truly genuine one-on-one recognition.
The History of Challenge Coins
The history of challenge coins is unclear.
Some believe challenge coins started in ancient Rome when soldiers were awarded special medallions for their skills and, instead of spending or using the precious coins, the soldiers would keep them as a sign of honor and pride. The most common modern-day origin story is that the coins originated during the First World War. During WWI it was typical for American pilot squadrons to be a menagerie of men---small town volunteers to Ivy League Lieutenants. As the story goes, one wealthy Ivy League pilot commissioned a set of medallions with his squadron’s emblem and gave one to each member of his squad. So enamored by the medallion, one of the small town pilots placed the coin in a pouch and wore it around his neck. As the war pressed on, this pilot was shot down over Germany, captured by the Germans, and stripped of all identification. The pilot managed to escape and found his way to French troops who, instead of embracing him, presumed by his lack of identification that he was a German spy. During this hasty encounter, the pilot was able to show the French troops the coin which remained around his neck. And since the symbols on the coin were easily recognized and identified the soldier as an American, ultimately proving his allegiance and garnered his safe return.
Over the next century, challenge coins evolved as a symbol of a unit's pride.
And a drinking game. Unit members would “challenge” other members to show their coin – if the teammate was not able to show a coin, they would have to buy the challenger a drink . . . and vice versa. Hence the term “challenge coin” emerged.
Regardless of their origin, challenge coins are now used as an honored tradition to recognize excellence, build morale, promote team building and encourage community pride.
Today, challenge coins have expanded well beyond military circles. Coins are presented for recognition across many aspects of American life. Used as a way to quietly, but tangibly, recognize one’s honor towards another.
Compassionate Ridgefield encourages you to use our compassion coins as a show of gratitude and appreciation. . . . a way of catching someone doing something good – and celebrating it.
How to Present a Coin
How to Present a Compassion Coin
A challenge coin is not a trophy. It is not intended to be presented with a big speech or in front of a crowd.
It is a humble transfer from one person to another and presented with the honor and dignity to match the reason the recipient is receiving it. It can be done while crowds are around, but is meant to be presented in a subtle and private manner – a one on one recognition. Eye to eye contact.
The traditional way to give a challenge coin is via a simple handshake - placing the coin in the palm of your hand and transferring it, usually without the receiver first noticing, into their hand. It is meant to be given with direct eye contact and a thank you. Once received, it is tradition to very clearly articulate “why” they are receiving the challenge coin:
“The work you did to organize the gala is the reason why we were able to raise so much for the cause. Thank you for giving your time to benefit others.”
"You probably thought no one saw you, but I did. Thank you for cleaning up Mrs. Johnson’s yard while she was unexpectedly in the hospital.”
“Wow. I was so impressed
by how you defused that difficult situation. You were so respectful and even-keeled, showing us all how we can treat others with dignity, even
if their opinion differs from ours."
When it comes to presenting a compassion coin, one tradition usurps all - it’s up to you as the giver.
You can coin someone for any reason you want.
You can “coin” someone
any way you want,
any time you want,
anywhere you want.
Carry a coin in your pocket and be ready to present it when the moment inspires you.
Ridgefield's compassion coins are designed to be keepsakes and become a part of the recipient’s story. Recipients can certainly regift their coin, but they are meant to be kept and collected as a reminder and an honor.
So instead of regifting, buy more to keep the giving going.
be purchased at Info Desk in Town Hall or via
When you catch someone doing something good and want to recognize it, all you need is a coin!
The Compassionate Ridgefield Compassion Coins
A limited supply of first edition Compassionate Ridgefield compassion coins have been commissioned for distribution.
While most elements of the coin are
simple and clear, you may need to look
closely for hidden details – if you can
get your hands on one.
Compassionate Ridgefield compassion coins were designed with a small cut out/ hole to also allow for hanging. Some coins come with a “jump ring” to facilitate connecting to a necklace or pendant display.
Obviously, these first run coins are limited edition.
As a town, we are all excited to see who ends up with one . . . and why?
Will you have the honor to hand one away?
Will you have the honor to be handed one?
If you get coined, share your story