Well, guys, it’s been another one of those years where I’ve left the previous year’s recap until the bitter end. You may call it procrastination (you wouldn’t be entirely wrong), but I prefer to think of it as building suspense and getting you PUMPED for our 2020 campaign by reliving the pre-Covid glory days of 2019.
Last year, as Luc was preparing for the California Custom Knife Show (out in Los Angeles at the end of October) we had an opportunity arise that was just too amazing to pass up…
Mattel (THAT Mattel of Barbie and Ken) offered to open their doors to us while we were out in LA so that we could buy our C4T toys in bulk at a substantial discount. The Mattel team was AWESOME and EXCITED to be part of our effort, which made us excited because…MATTEL’s excited to work with us? C’mon now. We’re blushing…
We devised a plan. We would shop for one FULL day in California and make it count for the Marine Toys for Tots program of Pico Rivera. And then, when we returned back to Cape Cod, we would hit our favorite local stores for kids on the South Shore. Ready. And Go.
Because our customers and supporters (the BRNLY Fam as we lovingly call each other) are located all over the country, we were stoked our C4T fundraiser would be reaching kids from coast to coast. Literally.
First Stop: Mattel!
We arrived at Mattel at 9:00am and met up with SSgt. Patterson and an amazing group of Brawlers from the West Coast. Everyone was practically vibrating with positive energy.
Several people from our Burnley crew knew the kids and communities these toys would be helping out, and that was probably the best inspiration we could have had for what would ultimately be one of the longest days of shopping ever.
2nd Stop: Target.
Target always hits the mark because we’re able to shop a few categories in one go. The goal here was Legos, Bikes (with matching helmets!), Razor Scooters and some baseball gloves, footballs, basketballs, etc. We really tried to focus on Teens and Tweens. For them, the toys get less toy’ish and more expensive–think earbuds, chargers, and tablets–so we wanted to stretch the money and look for the best value in terms of quality and price point. One awesome resource we had throughout the day was Theresa. She had been with Toys for Tots for 15 years and had a great feel for items that were needed or more importantly, not needed.
3rd Stop: Spyder Surf
We always try to spend some of the money in a local shop, so after Target, we headed to the Spyder Surf shop in Hermosa beach. Spyder has been building surfboards since the late ‘70s. A Cape friend was able to call ahead and make an introduction which was awesome because, honestly, Lucas and his beaten up credit card don’t really look like they can afford $6000 dollars worth of skateboards…
With everything we buy, we shoot for best value in cost and quality. This is especially true when it comes to something like skateboards. A little higher quality in deck, trucks and wheels makes a huge difference.
Luke at Spyder was super helpful and offered to build us 30 shop boards on the spot. With the help of Scott they knocked them out in record time. This was no small undertaking but it allowed us to keep the cost down and still walk with high quality set ups. We were grateful for the time they put in.
4th Stop: Guitar Center!!!
Instruments bridge the gap between toy, tool and art (all of the best things). Luc’s dad was a busker on Venice beach for a while back in the day, so this is something that’s close to Luc’s heart.
We love the idea that maybe a kid who gets a guitar or keyboard for Christmas and learns to play in their room might use that same skill set to buy their mom a house someday. Long shot? Maybe, but at least it’s a possibility. Get it kid!!
5th and final stop – Best Buy.
Our brains were kind of fried at this point, but luckily we had our secret weapon, Theresa. As we were walking around we started talking about what we could purchase that would be really rare in terms of donations and serve the most people. When we started talking about computers her eyes lit up.
Theresa said that one of the best things about a laptop is that it can go to an after school program and kids will be able to continue their work on the same system they’re using at school. DONE!
We finished loading up the truck. Shared some high fives and hugs and said goodnight to the people who we just spent the last 12 hours and $79,858.22 with. It was a good day
Part 2 : Cape Cod
Our work continued back on Cape Cod where we again planned to meet up with local law enforcement to participate in the annual “Stuff a Bus” Toys for Tots challenge. This is a friendly competition between the Police and Fire Departments of Cape Cod to see which town can collect the most toys for kids. We’d be lying if we didn’t say that we were hoping to bring home the win…
Mattel continued to be amazing. They donated 500 (!!) American Girl Dolls to our C4T fundraiser and shipped 200 of those to the Cape. Even if you’re not a parent or weren’t into dolls back in the day, you probably know that these are some of the most coveted toys around. They’re iconic. They’re inspiring for young girls (I had Felicity when I was little). They’re also…pretty darn expensive…Knowing that 200 girls unwrapped an AGD on Christmas morning was very cool. Thank you, Mattel.
We also met up with our friends at the Pump House for all our skate and surf needs.
We also purchased over a dozen high-quality bikes and matching helmets from Barry at Orleans Cycle again.
A run to Best Buy for tablets and some toys from FROZEN II were among our other scores. Luc and Joe were also able to pick up some amazing Fender Guitars from Charlie’s store on Cape Cod.
The day of the Stuff a Bus parade arrived, while Lucas was away at the Kentucky Custom Knife Show, Barlow and I got to ride along with Orleans, PD.
He (we) LOVED it. Cars, trucks, sirens, I mean, what 2-year-old (and mom of a 2-year old) wouldn’t?!
The Stuff a Bus parade is certainly something special. While there’s a good-natured “competition” going on between towns everyone is positive, joyful, and eager to see what each town has contributed for the kids.
It feels incredibly humbling to have played some small part in all these communities–locally and across the country–coming together to achieve a singular goal. It’s almost too profound a feeling to adequately express. But, it’s what makes C4T something we look forward to year after year.
When it all shook out, we raised $118,646.57. $115,313.24 were spent on toys that year between Cape Cod and Los Angeles. And $3,333.33 was donated to Marine Toys for Tots directly to be distributed to a town or towns that needed additional funds for the year.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank everyone who donated, helped, encouraged, gave their time, and basically, made the holidays better for thousands of kids. We are grateful beyond measure for your support.
Love and respect. Work Hard, Do Good.