Sunday, December 12, 2010
MILWAUKEE TOY DRIVE- Photo Essay
L-R: Blackbird, Tea Krulos, Citizen, The Watchman
By Tea Krulos
Milwaukee and Chicago Real Life Superheroes worked together to run a toy drive in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, Saturday, December 11. I helped the heroes organize the event. After some brainstorming, we decided to host an in person event where people could donate items or money in person. We decided on two charities to work with: The Gingerbread House is a charity which gives toys to families who are financially struggling in nearby Washington County. The Meta House is a rehab and recovery program for women and their children in Riverwest. They also cited a need for art supplies for their many art programs, so we added our scope to include that.
The Fuel Cafe has been serving "Killer Coffee/ Lousy Service" since 1993 and is a neighborhood landmark on Center Street- everyone knows where it is. Since it's opening the neighborhood has developed many bars, restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries in the immediate area. I know one of the owners and thought he might be cool with letting us set up outside. He said that it sounded great. The staff was also gracious and somewhat amused.
I arrived on the scene and found Citizen, who is from Chicago, already at the scene. He made the drive between Chicago and Milwaukee (approx. 90 minutes) in quick time and was early. Citizen had been planning his own toy drive, but it wasn't going the way he wanted so decided to bring his donations up to share with ours.
The first person to stop by with a donation was Molly Snyder, associate editor at Onmilwaukee.com, a daily website that alot of people check out for things to do. Molly had done a write up the day before on the toy drive (HERE). We also were featured in the local alternative paper, the Shepherd Express in the "This Week in Milwaukee" two page spread (HERE). This is like their "picks of the week" for events, a coveted space anyone doing an event wants a blurb in.
Many people stopping by said they saw the Onmilwaukee or Shepherd Express write ups.
The Watchman has become pretty well known because of local media, and in a situation like this it has served him well. That is why I helped push him as a key figure in this- to take advantage of the media attention he's received.
One of our favorite moments of the day was when a fire engine pulled up right in front of us. This is not unusual- firefighters and police stop by Fuel regularily to get coffee and food. Two of the firemen jumped out of the truck, and one started walking toward us.
"Well, I know he's The Watchman- but who is this guy?" He said, pointing at Citizen. Citizen introduced himself. The fireman talked to his partner, exchanged some money, and dropped a twenty dollar bill in the change jar. The Watchman was asking people to sign the toy drive box, and the fireman signed it "MFD- Truck 5."
I asked if I could take their picture, and the fireman said, "yeah, sure, get all of us in front of the truck." Just then, they got a call and the driver yelled "We got to go!" As the fireman climbed in the truck, he told Watchman he should stop by the station some time.
People stopped by at a slow but steady pace. A woman brought a couple deluxe sets of crayons. A man brought a beautiful color pencil/ paint set. One couple had seen the Onmilwaukee article and brought two big bags of comic book hero toys. Not the normal stuff you'd find in a department store, but the collector direct market deluxe ones. Someone brought a monkey stuffed animal. One guy rolled up, said his kid had too many toys, and grabbed a mini basketball and a toy ray gun lying in the back seat of his car and threw them in the box. We got play-doh, coloring books, toy kitchen sets, comic books, and much more. Several other people dropped cash in the jar.
Blackbird had work obligations he couldn't get out of all day, but did manage to make a brief appearance to show his support and drop off a massive amount of donations. He could hardly walk, his arms were holding so many bags of toys and art supplies he had gotten. He stayed for awhile and talked, but then had to get back to work.
Weather in Wisconsin this time of year can be brutal. We had heard nightmare forecasts of rain, sleet, and blizzards. Fortunately for most of the day it wasn't bad. It was cold, but the weather was mild. About mid afternoon it slowly began to mist and then rain, so the guys started loading the donations into Watchman's car.
We filled up a giant box and a huge tupperware bin with donated stuff, lots of really great items. Pictured is just some of the stuff that was donated. We also raised a little bit over fifty bucks in cash, which will be used to buy more items. We will be delivering the donations to both charities within the next week. I will report on that after it happens.
I think this was a success. It was experimental- we had no idea if anyone would show up at all, what the weather actually would be like, etc.
The group of us who collaborated on this would like to thank Fuel Cafe, for letting us set up out front, Molly and Onmilwaukee.com, the Shepherd Express, Jan Christensen from the Riverwest Currents (who stopped to take our picture and write notes for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue), and Citizen for making the drive up. Of course most importantly, a big thanks to all the wonderful people who made it happen by taking time to stop by and donate, from hippie artists to firemen.