Monthly Archives: April 2010

Door to Door

Imagine, if you will…

It’s Saturday morning, and today is the 1st day of neighborhood canvassing, today is the 1st day of knocking on strange doors to ask for money, today is the first day of possible back to back rejections, today is the first day of getting mauled by the neighborhood’s precious canine community – that’s right – today is that day.

But I’m still sitting on the couch with a stomach full of butterflies and honey nut cheerios.

I am the lion of Oz and I need to find some courage. So I look for advice from my most trusted advisor, Google. Starting simple, I search”how to fundraise” and “how to ask for money.” Google advises me to bat my eyelids and to use  “the look” to hypnotize and manipulate your audience into giving money. First of all, I can’t bat my eyelids without popping a contact out like a floor-seeking scud missile, and secondly, what does using “the look” even look like? This was no help. The search must continue.

“How do you door to door?”

“Canvassing for Dummies”

“What is stranger danger?”

I was getting nowhere fast; I was losing daylight, and  still was lacking in the necessary ‘cojones’ to begin canvassing. So I peel my eyes off the computer screen, slip into a nice pair of jorts (jean shorts) and start walking to the farmers’ market in hope of finding some locally grown inspiration. Nothing at the smoothie stand. Nothing at the spice rack. And nothing at the candy shop, except a delicious sample of homemade bark. It’s almost 1 o’clock and all I’ve done is eat! So what do I do? Look for something to drink. I go to grab some apple cider from the Amish fruit stand. With the half gallon of awesome in my hand, I turn to leave and run into two of my best friends from school, Nora and Mangrove.

They are giving a tour to Mangrove’s mom and grandma. We give each other hugs and hellos and then they ask me what I’m doing at market. I answered, “Eating,” and then Mangrove told them about our blog and wanted me to explain our bike trip to her family. So I do. No problem. And they loved it! So much that Mangrove’s grandma is compelled to break out the purse. But I stop her because I wasn’t asking them for money, and I don’t know, I felt bad. No one likes asking for money, and naturally, I feel like we (as people) are conditioned not to accept it, out of some sense of modesty, pride or something else, but granny insisted. What I didn’t know was that Mangrove’s grandma was actually quite the successful business woman and that she has been asking people for money her whole life.

“What do you mean you don’t want the money? Honey, listen, if you want to make a difference, you’re gonna have to stop all that nonsense. There’s nothing wrong with asking for money, because it’s not for you, it’s for the people that need it the most. If you want to make a difference, the first thing you have to do is stop being sorry, then you need to understand that people SHOULD be giving you their money. If they don’t give it to you, they’re just going to spend it on cigarettes. You are doing something amazing and that much is clear after just talking to you for a minute. Just talk to people like you just talked to us, and you’ll be fine. You’ve got it, just use it.”

And that was it.

And it was exactly what I needed to hear. It is ranked among my top ten pep talks of all time, rivaling such greats as the Janitor speech from Rudy, Gene Hackman in in the Hoosier locker room, and even the slurred and belligerent words of Rocky Balboa’s true teacher, Mickey.

She was right. 4Walls4All speaks for itself, we just need to tell the story.

Three hours and 200 doors later, I had raised over $650 for our trip. The future never looked so bright. If we can canvass with the same success over the summer, just imagine how many families we can help.

The day is young and there are still a lot more doors in Lancaster that need some knockin’ on.

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Spring Break: Bringin’ Home the Goods

We soon made it to Jen’s place at Binghamton University, and spent a good hour and a half driving around campus in search of a parking place.  There were so many cars on campus–how do they do it?  Well, we finally found one, got in touch with Jen, and picked up the bike!   Sam’s uncle (who’s name also happens to be Sam) has generously donated his beautiful Trek Touring Cycle with a nicely broken in Ideale  saddle. Uncle Sam, you truly will be with us in spirit this summer, thanks again! Then, right before leaving, we told Jen about One Less Shirt and she bought one right then and there, giving us our second sale before we even reached our destination. Shout out to the Chen Family in Rochester!
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University of Vermont (March 16th-19th)
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What a way to spend spring break!  We arrived at Phil’s place (my twin brother)  late Monday night and managed to spend all day Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday selling shirts in front of UVM’s library. Lady luck must have been sittin’ our laps because it was the first week that Burlington broke the 60 degree threshold since the previous fall! Needless to say, there were masses of people enjoying the sunshine on the library steps.  In all, we sold about 90 shirts (totaling $900 @ $10/ea.), received an extra $100 in donations, and made some invaluable friendships–I’d definitely call that a successful spring break.  Huge thanks to Phil and his housemates for sharing their home, and to everyone we talked to throughout the week for  making us feel welcome at UVM and supporting the cause!

Donations, woohoo!

Spring Break: Getting Started

Warning: you’re definitely in the wrong place if you meant to load a web page concerning all-inclusive vacations in Mexico or wet t-shirt contests.
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Don’t get me wrong, we had our fun, but spring break found us with 9 empty blocks on the calendar, about 200 pre-loved shirts in need of painting, and a massive bank of east-coast educational institutions at which we could fundraise for our bike trip.  We needed to get the show on the road!  After receiving a generous donation of paint (thanks Dad), Sam and I slipped on our respiratory masks, cleared out a workspace (an old garage), turned up the radio, and went to work.  By Sunday night we had finished painting all the shirts, and decided to sell at  a string of northerly universities.  Ultimately, we wanted to visit my twin brother, Phil, at the University of Vermont, and take advantage of what we figured to be a lucrative market.  That being said, Monday morning saw us on the road.
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First stop: Binghamton University.  Sam’s cousin Jen is studying there, and was keeping her father’s touring bike so that we could pick it up [sort-of] on our way north.  Somewhere in northern Pennsylvania, probably on the closer side to Binghamton, Sam and I were still feeling the electricity and excitement that always comes with the beginning of road trips, so we started joking around with the occupants of other cars.
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You know, we began with the canoe-paddle-pass, then broke out the breast stroke pass, which of course led to the lip-sync pass, and continued through all the classics until one especially amused car returned the favor.  We continued to fool around with our new 65mph friends, until Sam flashed his digits to the passenger of the other car.  Much to our surprise, his phone started ringing…
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“Hello!?…Nice to meet you, my name is Sam…we’re road-tripping to different colleges and universities in the Northeast and selling t-shirts to fundraise for our bike trip across the country this summer…yeah…Lancaster, Pennsylvania to San Diego…Want to see a shirt?”
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He hung up, unbuckled his seat belt, and began rummaging through the bags of t-shirts in the back seat; he had to pick a good one if this was going to work.  I looked in my side-view mirror and saw our friends approaching us on the left; Sam held the shirt up on his window.  His phone rang again…
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“Hey, what do you think…OK, what exit are you getting off…Sweet!”
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Yes, our first sale of the trip was made at 65mph, to complete strangers we weren’t even talking to face to face.  They turned out to be two very friendly seniors in high school who were coming home from track practice.  We knew it was going to be a good trip.

One Less Shirt

Henry and I created a T-shirt Campaign that we are taking on the road to college campuses up and down the East Coast to raise money for 4Walls4All. In a way, this is like our bake sale fundraiser, but instead of making ginger snaps and rice krispies, we cooked up some original art and  put it on recycled T-shirts. But how are the shirts recycled? Every t-shirt is 100% pre-loved and pre-owned (either donated from friends and family or bought from the Salvation Army), therefore, no new shirts were actually created and no new textile resources were used. The proceeds will go towards our food during the bike trip, because we have to stay energized in order to tell the whole country about 4Walls!
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here are a few samples: