2016 is rolling to an end. What a year it has been for the podcast and my involvement within the bearding community. When I first got involved in the bearding community about 5 years ago, I didn’t realize how involved communities and charities everyone participates in. As I wrap up the first year of The Beardcaster podcast I will end on a few events that I have attended over the past few weeks prior tothe holidays. Over the past few years, Beards of The Old Northwest, Steel City Beards and Mustache Club, The Rust Belt Whisker Society, have gotten together to help Marines with the Toys for Tots program in Northeast Ohio. Over the past few years we have collected an AMAZING amount of new and unwrapped toys for the children of the greater Youngstown area.
This year, at the last second I decided to have my own local toy drive and see what extra toys I could collect from my community that I could add to the annual toy drive. I posted on social media that I was searching for a location for collection for a few hours the evening before our club event. I was eagerly contacted by Dan Sammon of Everybody’s Gym who offered to put collection boxes out and to host my pick up for 3 hours on a Friday night. He reached out offering his business location to help in collectingtoys for the drive. He placed donation boxes in his lobby and collected many great toys from very generous members of his gym. Dan and I plan on working together in the near future to continue our charitable donations to our community…
Camelot Lanes, in Boardman Ohio has been the location of our annual toy drive and gathering of “beards” for the past few years. They have welcomed us with open arms and treat our group like family! A few years back we felt it would be a fun time to invite other outlying clubs to a central location to meet for some fun, comradery, competition, and to do something good for our community. In years past we have gathered at Lake Tavern in Cortland Ohio for their annual beard and mustache competition which would always benefit Toys for Tots. They no longer hold this event but we felt, as a group we needed to continue this charitable event and gather toys for the local Toys for Tots. Camelot Lanes became our new home for where we convene each year for the gathering. They have been nothing but wonderful to us and we hope to continue our friendship with them and make our yearly bowling event/toy drive, bigger each year!
This year we decided to reach out to Suzie's Dogs and Drafts of Boardman Ohio, to see if they wanted to assist and become part of the Toys for Tots event. They kindly offered us their establishment after our blowing event. They gave members a great discount on food and beverages and also donated a portion of sales for that evening to donate. You can refer back to my previous blog post with Anthony and Drew of Steel City to get the full vibe of our visit to Suzies's and some of the cool things they offer. It is great to build relationships with local businesses and have them see our vision of helping our communities. Though 2 out of 3 of the clubs are from a fair distance from where we met, and where we donate, there are still people/children that need assistance everywhere and we are proud to help in any way we can! We hope to also grow our relationship with Suzie's and help themembers of the Rust Belt Whisker Society grow their club, and influence, and help do great things!
As I wrap up my holiday adventure, I wanted to share one last thing. Each year I take the child to Breakfast with Santa. I know each town has their own event like this but we in Chardon are lucky enough to have the REAL Santa join us for this magical treat! My Christmas spirit was all but gone a few years back. It wasn'tthat Christmas was not there, but as life changes we loose that magic, and we loose those that helped make that magic what it was. Christmas became a lonely place that felt void of spirit and enjoyment for me once I lost my grandmother. Meeting my now wife, and her son really changed that for me about 5/6 years ago. Adding a child and his innocence into the mix really brought back that Christmas cheer. He was able to get me back to having that childlike feeling and that excitement I used to have. To add to my "Christmas re-birth" we discovered Breakfast with Santa at our local eating joint Morgan's. This took the magic to a whole new level, Santa was perfect in every way!!! He knew so many things about everything and dazzled the child which drove that nail in of Santa being real. I was even amazed at how good Santa looked, how he presented himself and just the overall goodness that he emitted. He gave the child a special Christmas marble made by the elves. It was a hand made beautiful white, red, and green swirled marble; quite breathtaking!
As the years have gone on Santa and Lukas have grown a special bond together. He knows so much about the child he gives him that Christmas cheer and love all year long. The magic of Santa is alive in our family. Being at the age where children are loosing their belief in this magical man, our home is still full of Christmas magic. Each Breakfast with Santa makes the spirt grow and helps us remember the reasons we feel fell in love with Christmas as a child. It also helps us realize part of the magic is to give to others that are struggling or who can't experience what we can due to hardship or some other downfall. I think this aspect, and being part of a group-all because of my beard, has really opened my eyes to focusing on helping others and trying to do good for the community. This is what MY Christmas spirt has evolved into and I hope that sharing these moments with my son inspire him to do the same as he gets older. Merry Christmas to everyone and enjoy my interview with Santa from a few months ago! Thank you all for a great first year as The Beardcaster. I hope 2017 I can provide more entertaining and captivating content for everyone to enjoy!!! Fillis Nav-did.