Customers who donate an unopened toy worth at least $25 will receive a tattoo or piercing of equal value at the House of Ink Shop’s fourth annual “Toys for Tattoos” drive.
Owner Jay Guzman, known as “Big Jay,” has been flooded with customers during the three-day drive, which benefits local children in need. As the Frayser, Tenn., store opened today, Guzman said three people were already in the waiting room to get inked.
One customer has come in three times since Monday and gotten a different tattoo with each donation, Guzman said.
The toys collected go to the Agape Child and Family Services, a non-profit Christian organization that distributes them to local children and families in need.
Last year’s drive resulted in approximately 500 toys. This year, Guzman said the shop has about $300-worth of toys so far and $500 in cash that will go towards purchasing toys for older kids and teens.
“A lot of people don’t have toys for 13- to 14-year-olds,” Guzman said, adding that he bought a few used iPods to donate to kids in that age group. “[It's important] that we’re able to donate to a child that is at the critical age when they can begin to have resentment to society.”
Now in its fourth year, Guzman said the drive was slower than in the past, when “we couldn’t even get in the shop some days.”
“It has a lot to do with the economy, but that’s the reason why we do it,” he said. “There are people that are in need.”
The “Toys for Tattoos” promotion ends at midnight tonight, but the House of Ink will be collecting toys and cash donations through Dec. 17.
(For more information, call (901) 348-INKU or email email@example.com).
To Guzman, who grew up in foster care and group homes, the drive is a small way to give back.
“For me, it goes back to that Kevin Spacey movie, ‘Pay It Forward,’” he said. “I was told I would amount to nothing. I was that kid that didn’t have a toy under the tree. If I listened to that negativity, I would be nothing. But I listened to that positive side and now I can give back with my artistic talents to that child that’s on the brink, that one who’s ready to give up.”
Naughty Ways to Be Nice
The House of Ink isn’t the only business offering up its services this season for a good cause.
A medical marijuana dispensary in Soquel, Calif., is also doing its part to feed the hungry, trading joints for donated food. For every six cans of food donated at Granny Purps dispensary’s second-annual food drive, patients can get one free joint.
As ABC News’ Clayton Sandell reported, the dispensary collected more than 12,000 pounds of food last year and gave away about 2,000 joints. This year, they’ve collected nearly 5,000 pounds since early November.
Others have come up with some naughty ways to be nice. The Admiral Theater, a Chicago strip club, is running its second annual “Lap Dances for the Needy” promotion, where customers can get a free lap dance with a toy donation, according to the Chicagoist. The deal is limited to one lap dance per customer and runs through Dec. 17 to benefit local churches.