MY PHILANTHROPIC EFFORTS OUTSIDE MY MOVIE PROWESS
I’ve noticed I’m getting a lot more new readers since my introduction on ‘The Drive with Bob & Jeff‘ yesterday, so I thought I might stop and talk about my more personal endeavors outside my movies and comics obsession.
If there’s anything I love to do more than watch movies, read & write reviews, and hang out with my kids, it’s charity work. As a poor kid growing up in north Texas, I benefited greatly from the charity of others. As I grew older and more successful, I felt it was my responsibility to give back.
The Salvation Army Angel Tree
When I was a kid, I greatly benefited from The Salvation Army‘s Angel Tree, so I decided I would start trying to give back to that on a regular basis. You can find the effort at ‘Greg’s Annual Angel Tree Donation Drive, coordinated on Facebook for maximum exposure. Starting each year on November 1, I began raising money for the kids and seniors on the Trees and Star of Hopes. The first year, we pulled in over $1,100. Last year, we were able to pull in over $2,700 dollars that went straight to gifts and appliances for the recipients. We were on one of the local television stations, KSN, for the effort.
This is straight from my GoFundMe page I’ve had for two years running, and will continue with in 2016 and beyond:
In 2014, I started this fund to purchase Christmas presents for children and senior citizens through The Salvation Army. Last year, we raised $850 in donations from 15 donors. My family personally added another $300 and some change to bring that total to over $1,100 for the season. If you go back and look at the pictures from the campaign last year, it was a modest success. I’m hoping to grow it just a little more this year.
This year, I’m asking each person I know for $5.00. If everyone I know, friend or casual aquaintance from just Facebook alone, donated, we’d reach nearly triple my goal. So this year, I ask you: please, donate $5 per person and more importantly, please share this amongst your peers. The way this is successful is because of you. My family and I will do the leg-work necessary to purchase and distribute the presents. We just need your help in purchasing power.
The original story, written in November of 2014:
As a small child, one of my prevailing memories was sitting in the home I shared with three other siblings and a single mother, looking on at a small Christmas tree sitting on the table, glowing softly in the darkness.
There were no presents.
Then, there was a knock at the door. My mother opened it, and standing outside were three people, holding a crate of food, and arms full of wrapped presents. These were apparently all for us. I don’t remember my Mother’s reaction, but I remember being overwhelmed, and not understanding why these people had done this. In that moment, I didn’t understand generosity, charity, and the power of giving to those who can give you nothing back. It didn’t matter; in that moment, I had Christmas presents. In that moment, my siblings, who at that time didn’t know their fathers, had gifts when I didn’t know if and when we’d have anything. It was miraculous to us.
Later, when I understood what The Salvation Army Angel Tree is, I made an effort to give something every year. It’s my way to give back to a cause that meant so much to me as a child. Some years, I’ve bought piles upon piles of toys and clothes, trying to fulfill every possible gift and dream I could.
One year, I was so broke, I couldn’t eat. I took my last $200 I had, and made one kid’s Christmas as amazing as $200 could make it. Christmas is my time to give to give to the children that felt just like I did that night so many years ago. This is where I and my family give back.
What I’m asking from you, and anyone you’ll share this with, is to help me extend this further. Every penny you donate here will go into The Angel Tree and The Star of Hope. Once we collect the money we will, my family and I will spend the weekend before the donations are due, and make as many childrens’ and elderly people’s Christmases as wonderful as possible. We will include a video of us throughout the weekend, my children and I will send out thank-yous, receipts will be kept (for proof, if you’d like), and a final picture with the whole haul brought to The Salvation Army will be taken, with a tally of all the children and elderly we all help. I LOVE doing this for people. It’s a passion for me. I love giving back when I can, and this is the most meaningful foundation I can give back to.
I will do this myself. My family and I will do this regardless. I don’t do this for me; I’m doing this for every kid out there who sits longingly hoping for a Christmas. What I’m asking you to help me provide for as many people as we can this Christmas and beyond. If you don’t donate here, I’d ask you to go pick up your own Angel or Star, and make someone’s day. You’ll never see it, but I promise you: there’s a child out there who will be eternally grateful for your donation.
Screens & Dreams
I work in I.T. as my career. This little digital playground of mine, my work at The Starlite Drive-In, and my new opportunity on KFH Radio are all more my hobbies. In my real life, I service and install equipment crucial to the operation of 911 Emergency Services. As such, between that and just working on computers and in I.T. in general, I’ve collected up many computers, servers, and laptops in various states of disrepair.
My wife is a teacher in Haysville, Kansas, and comments on students’ various knowledge of computers and how to use them. As we’re clearly neck-deep in the Information Age, I feel it important that all children get exposed to technology and trained in how to use it.
Realizing I have the skills and means to do it, I posted this on May 20th to my Facebook page:
This one’s very important to me, so please read if you have a moment.
I’m working on a scholarship program I’ve named “Screens & Dreams.”
Given the nature of my technical expertise, I have piles of old, used computer hardware that I’ve been trying to find something useful to do with. I’m going to start building used systems for under-privileged kids and require an essay as to why they deserve it and what the kid will use it for.
What I’m in really in need of would be laptops a generation or two behind I can refurbish and offer up. Desktops are great, but allowing for the flexibility of laptops means the child can take it places and access the Internet and other resources as needed. Working or not, I’ll take them. Worst case, the non-functioning laptop could serve as parts to make another operational. If you need to ship it, I’ll pay shipping. All you need to do is pack it up and drop it off at a UPS store. I’ll provide the shipping label.
If you’re aware of someone who has an old laptop in their closet they’d be willing to part with, knowing it will be used for charitable means, I’d be in your debt.
First place I’m going to offer it to will be my wife Erin’s Middle School she teaches at, and plan to expand from there. By Christmas, my goal is to have enough to fulfill any requests I may receive.
I’ll write a receipt for tax purposes for anyone needing one. I’m still working on a 501(3)(C), but as of now, I still don’t have the funds to make that happen.
If you or anyone you know can help towards the cause, I’d be greatly appreciative of anything that can be provided. Jessa Lyn donated the first one, and I currently have two I’m going to refurb, with the intention to grow as I come into more hardware.
Thanks for reading.
Edit: if you’ll share this out for me, spread the word, I’d be grateful.
There you have it. A little background on me outside my movie critic endeavors. If you have any ability to help towards any of these causes, I would appreciate it immensely. Anything towards expanding the philanthropy to the Wichita and surrounding areas. If you cannot, no pressure; I just appreciate you being here and being a part of my little-site-that-could.
I’m really looking forward to expounding and expanding the role I have with the radio show, and growing this site into something everyone in Wichita and beyond will make a daily reader. Thanks for taking the time to read this long-winded blog entry, and from here, I’ll get back to our regularly-scheduled movie and entertainment posts!