How did this Kilted Charity Movement begin?
In January of 2009, I co-founded a grassroots organization which is now called “Potlucks to End World Hunger”. Its mission is to remind us that as we eat, there are those around the world who do not know from where their next meal will come. I’ve traveled around the country giving presentations on the systemic issues of hunger, and how we can help.
In 2011, I founded an organization called Kilts 4 Kause, which focuses predominantly on male-oriented cancer. I started doing awareness / fundraiser events which included a fashion show of guys in kilts (many for the first time in their lives!).
In the spring of 2013, I started following on Facebook Rick Baldwin of Life In A Kilt, Rick was wearing a kilt everyday for a year from his 50th to his 51st birthday. I thought, “Hey… that would be great. I am turning 50 this year. But he has already done it.” So I decided to wear a kilt everyday for a year in support of my two charities. My wife laughed when I told her, until she realized I was serious. We had a “Family meeting” and decided that now was the time. The boys were adults and has passed the point of being embarrassed by me. Out daughter was young enough that she didn’t know she should be embarrassed. I spent a year wearing a kilt to raise awareness, advocacy, action and funds in support of ELCA World Hunger and the American Cancer Society.
In November 2013, starting Day 001, I can honestly say I did not wear pants the whole year. The only times I wore bifurcated garments (pants) was when I was working out, or if we were just hanging around the house. People would ask me why I was wearing a kilt, especially during the coldest winter in 30 years! (OK, that’s not the only question they asked me, but it was one of them.) I would tell them this story, hand them a flyer, and ask them how they might be able to get involved. Many would ask why should they?
I would tell them about my coffee mug. A friend got me this as a gift many years ago. It has a quote that is attributed to Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I don’t know if Gandhi ever said that or not. But it is on my coffee mug! I really try to live my life this way. I can sit around and complain about the world and everything that is wrong or I can start to try and make a change.
I believe this may be a lesson I have learned from my martial arts. I believe in myself. I can make a difference. As I have read the stories about the ancient masters, it is about leaving things better than you found them. It is about passing it on. It is about speaking up, when others do not. And so, I risked ridicule, embarrassment, and personal sacrifice, to change the world, one kilt and one meal at a time. I met some fantastic people along the way. I heard many stories. I saw the people most affected. i changed.
In November 2014, on Day 366, I looked back. My collection had increased from 8 to 13! I traveled the country telling the story. I raised over $5,000 for hunger and cancer along the way. I lost a close friend to cancer. I fed the homeless. There is still change to be made. But this approach definitely changed how people saw me. It became a defining event for me.
I decided to turn Kilted 50 For Charity from a one-year fundraising project into a perpetual charitable foundation. My hope is to assist people, projects organizations, and groups; not just with hunger and cancer, but anything that might change the world, and leave it better than we find it now. Who knows, maybe it will catch on…. changing the world one kilt at a time.
During 2015, the first year of the new format, we gave away over $2,000 spread over 26 different organizations. We also spearheaded a “World’s Largest Potluck” attempt in Central Ohio. The attempt included a day at the Ohio Statehouse, 1,442 non-perishable food items donated to local food pantries, $142 was donated to ELCA World Hunger, and 385 people were fed. In 2016, I donated over $3,000 among 20 different agencies. And in 2017 we donated $3,200 to among 15 different organizations.
What can you do to get involved? You may visit our Facebook page Kilted 50 For Charity to get more ideas by seeing what we have done in the past, to see what is coming up, or just to stay in touch. You can host an event, that we will assist in setting up. For a $20 donation, you can choose one of my kilts (view kilt choices photo album on Facebook) for me to wear on a specific day, and we will give you a shout-out online! For $10, you can purchase one of our handmade kilt beverage koozies. When making donations, you may make checks out to Kilted 50 For Charity. You may mail them to:
Kilted 50 For Charity, c/o Michael Poole, PO Box 306, Staten Island NY 10308.
You can email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org