OTTAWA -- Over the past year, the Royal Canadian Mint has been printing a special medal dedicated to essential workers during the pandemic, and at the same time, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for a great cause.

It’s called the 2020 Recognition Medal. And it's a chance to show appreciation for someone who has made a difference during these difficult times. The nickel-plated steel medal also includes a magnet, so it can be worn proudly by its recipient.

“The idea came about that we have material that we could reuse and what if we were able to make this great medal that people could give to recognize heroes during the pandemic,” says Marie Lemay, President and CEO of The Royal Canadian Mint. “We did the design internally. Employees volunteered to do the packaging. So, they got their families into it, the kids around the table.”

Employees like Sam Thomas, who has been working at the Mint for 20 years. When he heard about what was happening, he jumped at the chance to help out.

“They were reaching out, not just to engage employees of the Mint, but also their families to be part of that experience of doing something to give back to our community and our front-line workers,” says Thomas. “So, basically, what we did was we took over the kitchen table and converted it to an assembly line for these recognition medals.”

And he's not the only one. Dozens of Mint employees and their families stepped up looking to be part of this great cause.

The medals cost $9.95 and, so far, the Mint has sold more than 90,000 of them, raising more than $600,000 dollars for the Breakfast Club of Canada, an organization that helps kids get healthy meals into their bellies.

This medal also represents a moment in history, when Canadians came together to overcome an extremely difficult time.

“Definitely this keepsake, this recognition medal will go a long way in people’s minds, hearts and memories as something positive,” says Thomas. “Something that emits the challenges that we were confronted with on a daily basis.”

“It comes in a package, and then you open it, you’ve got the medal and you can actually write your note and your thank you message to the person,” says Lemay. “Sometimes, you know, it doesn’t need to be a big thing, but it makes such a difference. Being able to just take a moment to recognize, it goes a long, long way.”

The Mint will continue to offer the medals until the end of June.