Here’s how the Toy Drive Went in 2015

As you can see, it was a huge success.

As you might remember from my call for donations earlier this year, I told you about our toy drive that served 19 kids from 8 families.  We raised about $600 when you count the presents donated.  We got a lot of good feedback, the people were so happy with the efforts we put in to help them out in times of need.  We had to do this baby again.

After seeing the goodwill put forth by another charitable organization in New Hampshire, Shire Sharing, we were looking to put in our time and efforts to helping the less fortunate in our neck of the woods.  State Representative Amanda Bouldin, a Free State Project early mover and founder of Shire Sharing, was our inspiration in creating the Lakes Region Porcupines Toy Drive last year, so it was only fitting that our first “fundraising event” was held because of Amanda putting in a good word with our sponsor.

That sponsor was Kurt Thomas, local Chef in Manchester, New Hampshire.   Kurt donated the proceeds from his “Battle Sushi” event to our cause.  I attended Battle Sushi and was amazed by the work the two Chefs put in on this event.  Everyone got three rounds of fresh sushi made with the finest ingredients.  Admittedly, I am not much of a sushi guy.12376545_1081090611924329_8619535371996325035_n 

Actually, I don’t like sushi.  Frankly, it makes me gag even when I watch as my wife chows down on it.  However I made myself a promise to at least give this dish a try when it came around to me.  I tried the tempura battered sushi because, hell, anything tastes better when you fry it.  It was very OK, I even amazed myself being able to stomach something I typically would never ever try.  The event was MC’d by JJ Epic of Vibrant.Works and made the evening very entertaining.  Drinks were flowing thanks to Jarod Ean-Dixon and his donation of specialty beverages.  This evening was right at the end of when we were collecting donations for our campaign.  Overall donation was $250!  What a way to end the toy drive!

All in all, we received over $1,350 in cash donations.  Add to that the presents donated to us, I would guess we had at least $1,700 at the bare minimum.  We served 35 kids this year, everything from educational toys to bicycles, skateboards to whatever this minecraft thing is.  (I’m soon to be a parent, I’m sure it’ll be lame by the time my kid gets around to it.)

2015 LRP Toy Drive Tony
Check it out yo
Getting to that big number was quite a trip indeed.  Everyday I’d come home and grab some clipart of Santa or piles of presents and whip up some memes.  I wanted to be sure we had plenty of time to raise the money we needed.  Elf partner in crime, Glen Aldrich looked at me like I was crazy when I suggested we raise $500 cash for the drive.  I figured, it was a good goal, we didn’t raise that much in cash last year.  It’s attainable.  Glen simply but firmly says “It should be $1000.”  More on Glen later.

But here’s where I really want to call some people out.  These are the folks that donated cash and presents to us.  I put out some of the early wish lists of the kids we had on the list on our Facebook group.

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The Army of Elsas.  Yes we are very familiar with Elsa.
Two days later I came home to more Amazon packages I have ever seen in one place.  I drove across the state to pick up an Army of Elsas from Beth Halbrooks.  Nearly everyday I was writing to Glen informing him of a new donation on our YouCaring.com page.  Here are our generous contributors:

Glen Aldrich (a different Glen Aldrich!), Rodger Paxton, Tabitha and Jesse Garland, Randy Clemens, Anonymous, Jason Clifton, John Chambliss, Elinor Comeau, Edward Comeau, Firecracker Joe, Diana Cardamom, Goshi King, Joe & Karen Coons, Glenn Bailey, Chris Dunn, Rep Michael Sylvia, Michelle Levell, Steve Paduchowski, Anonymous, Cathleen and Don Converse, Angela and Emmett Harris, Deb and Stan Jankowski, Jayel Silverman, Jimi Austin, Deb Notkin, Wayne Durkee, Betsy Malenfant, Beth Halbrooks, and Marie Aldrich (for putting up with me and Glen fighting after being up each other’s asses for 12 hours straight).  This is the point where I hope my tracking skills are at their best and I’m pretty sure I didn’t forget anyone.  If I did, I greatly apologize, and please feel free to remind me of what an idiot I am so I can edit this blog and add you in.

Another special thanks goes out to my folks, Stan and Deb Jankowski for teaching me from a young age about giving back to others and how it’s more a good deed for yourself than it is a good deed for someone in need.  They are always my first and second cheerleaders, and always my first contribution for these last two toy drives.

Big thanks to the girls at Walmart, who got to know me and Glen pretty quick over our day of hanging out there clogging the aisles with our carts.  These petite women can pull down bicycles like it’s no one’s business.  I might have forgotten their names, but they did a great job helping us locate things in the toy department.

2015 LRP Toy Drive Glen
After about 30 shots, Glen was faking this peace sign
Finally, I have to bow down in thanks to my best friend, Representative Glen Aldrich.  Glen does more community service than anyone I have known the past ten years.  He works at a food pantry three days a week, and then on top of that he has taken it upon himself to deliver food to countless shut-ins.  I remember taking one day off of work this year to attend a session at the Center Harbor Food Pantry.  I worked my butt off, and they told me it was a slow day.  Glen does that three days a week and then packs several boxes for people who just can’t make it to the pantry.  Glen’s a Ham Radio operator, and has worked several events donating his services in radio communication.  If you saw the yellow flashers and Lola his pet lab at his side, you know you’ve encountered The Rep.  Glen was instrumental in co-founding the Lakes Region Porcupines group, getting the word out early that liberty lovers were in the Lakes Region and that they were meeting.  If anything is to be taken from the work the Lakes Region Porcs do, it’s thanks to his efforts getting the group off the ground.  It’s fitting that he was also co-founder of the Lakes Region Porcupines Beach Day BBQ, and is lead organizer of the event next year.  Glen wasn’t just the co-founder, he took on nearly 80% of the work and delegated where he could.  I was just making memes and inquiring about propane tank sizes, Glen was stockpiling the food and supplies.  It was a well attended event netting a nice chunk of change for both our organization and for the Center Harbor Food Pantry.  I can think of at least 4 or 5 other charitable actions put forth by Glen Aldrich, in fact sitting here I can think of a few more than that.  There simply are too many to mention.  When I read about people that are turned off from Free Staters, who feel that we are coming to infiltrate and destroy the New Hampshire way of life, I become so angry knowing that there are people who transplanted from New Jersey like Glen and his wife Marie who put so much effort into their communities.  If all the town fathers, the locals, the Massachusetts transplants put a quarter of the service into their beloved state that Glen does in just his spare time, we would have no need for any coercively funded apparatus.  Even while he sits during the day at the Statehouse while they drone on about what freedoms they can strip from us, he plans for even more community based activism.  Lately, he’s been tossing around a fire hydrant brigade, allowing his town’s firefighters to take a break, to train, to rest for the big show when their special talents are needed.  Nearly anyone can clean away one fire hydrant in the town.  Starting this project, Glen called up the Gilford FD and asked for a location list of all the hydrants.  When he was asked why, he explained he was going to start a brigade to ensure those are cleaned out so the firefighters didn’t have to do it.  The firefighter took a tone that Glen just wouldn’t get it done.  That firefighter doesn’t know Glen like I do, like many of us do.  Without Glen, there would be no LRP Toy Drive.  Thank you Glen, for inspiring me to get off my duff and get good work done.

I have to thank my wife, my queen, Jaime.  The mother of my child.  The parent to my cats.  My everything.  She put in so much in order for me to spend time trying to help others.  Thanks babe, I love you.

And thank you.  Thank you all who shared our posts, who donated cash, who gave us toys and sent us amazon packages, who attended the fundraisers, for those who gave us an encouraging pat on the back.  It’s not a thank you just from us, it’s a thank you from a gentleman who had a kid on our list who passed away soon after Christmas.  He got to give his child one more present.  This is why we do what we do, because life is precious and short.  Let’s continue to give of ourselves and perhaps one day we won’t even think of it as charity, because it’ll just be what we do naturally.