Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Project Smile, the Early Days

My second posting and I'm quite excited! I don't have much time, but wanted to get a little more in. I don't want my blogs to be all about the history of Project Smile, the goal is to be in the present. But to at least understand where Project Smile is now, it is helpful to know a little more about where it came from. So to continue: the summer of 2004 came and I started working full time. I opened our first business checking account at a local bank, Ben Franklin, with a $50 personal check. We had a website, at the time I liked it, but it left a lot to be desired. I was calling up police departments and donating stuffed animals left and right, that was the easy part.

Getting the stuffed animals was a heck of a lot harder. I was driving all over, sometimes over an hour to collect stuffed animals from parents who had read about our work and wanted to donate. Although every donation was helpful, people frequently donated every stuffed animals their child ever owned, regardless of its condition. A problem we still experience. I would drive down to Hannaford, a local supermarket in Milford to collect Poland Spring water bottle boxes for the stuffed animals. The guys at the store were awesome to me. I would print out pages with our name on it and tape it to the boxes. Our stationary was just Project Smile and our address written on the header- no logo, no nothing. $50 in the bank.

We needed funds. Urgently. I knew that most organizations created calendars as fundraising items, so I decided that we would do a Project Smile calendar. Black/white, high quality, with photos of police officers with their children. We would sell ads to pay for the production costs and the calendar would sell for a $10 donation. Good idea, no problem, let's go- if only it was that simple......
Until next time..

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