Amazing Student Launches Campaign to Bring Cards to Kids
Some stories have to be told. When I first heard of this one, I had no choice. I had to tell it.
In the collector's universe, it's easy to complain about a lot of things. I get it, it's not perfect. Sometimes we have to take a step back and remember the joy it gives us. I have always felt that the part of our hobby that sometimes gets lost among the hits and money involved are the people and characters..
John Makowiec is a sophomore at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. His love and passion for sports cards and his willingness to give has led him to start a non-profit charity called Cards to Kids. The organization collects new and used sports cards donated by collectors, packs them up and hands them out to kids at Children's Hospitals, Boys and Girls Clubs and other places where kids need something to smile about.
I had the privilege to speak with John and get his incredible story.
At what age did you start collecting?
I started collecting when I was around five- or six-years old.
Who got you into collecting?
My mom. I have always been a huge sports fan and my mom thought that it would be a fun way for me to enjoy sports more. So they would take me to my local hobby shop, Bleachers Sports Cards, and I would grab a few packs of cards to rip. I have loved it ever since.
Who do you personally collect?
Chicago Bears, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs.
What brought you to the idea to start Cards to Kids?
My freshman year, I was in a service club at school. We did a bunch of good stuff like go to soup kitchens and helped out, and food drives. I decided I wanted to do something more personal and sports card collecting is my favorite thing to do. I wanted to spread that joy of sports cards to other kids.
How did you first get started?
I talked about it with my parents first and they were on-board with doing it, which was cool. Then, we went to the local shop and asked if we could put a card collection box in their store. They were really nice and let us do that. To be honest, we collected more cards than we expected! It just took off! In fact, we just got back from the Toronto Sports Card and Memorabilia Show where we were able to donate 500 packs of hockey cards to a hospital in Toronto for sick children.
Have you been surprised of the positive response you have gotten for Cards to Kids?
Yeah, definitely. We have gotten so many more cards and so many people that have reached out to help than I could have ever imagined.
What are your plans for the future with Cards to Kids?
I would love to build this into a national organization. It would be great to see other kids in other cities set up boxes at their local hobby shops for Cards to Kids. I think that would be awesome.
How do the kids respond when you show up with packs of cards?
The Boys and Girls Clubs are great. One of the kids there is all into stats. He is always in the computer lab looking at ESPN online and checking out what is going on. When we give him these cards, he will always study the backs of the them, going through the players' stats and just smiling, which is what I do! It's really cool. Then there is another kid that we gave a pack of cards to and when he opened it he pulled out a Juan Gutierrez card, pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was so excited. He told me he was one of his heroes. It's little things like that that are really gratifying.
What is the goal for Cards to Kid to accomplish?
The ultimate goal is to bring joy to as many kids as possible through sports cards. I'm confident that this can become national or even global. The response we have gotten just here in Chicago and in Canada has been remarkable.
If you are interested in setting up a donation box in your neighborhood, please contact Debbie at 1-312-362-2452.
Cards can also be mailed to:
Cards to Kids
141 W. Jackson St.
Chicago, IL 60604
If you're in the Chicago are, cards can also be dropped off at:
557 Chestnut Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
Elite Sportscards, Comics & Gaming Cards
2028 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60618