After I posted that, one of my friends messaged me. Her husband is the mall manager and she wanted to run a few ideas past him, then me. A few days later, we had come up with a great idea. Using R2's "star power", we would hold a Toy Raiser to help collect toys and monetary donations to benefit Toys for Tots.
My friends, Melissa and James Gerety, did so much to make this a wonderful success. The media helped get the word out, the local FOX News affiliate did a story on it, the Mall did, the Mall sponsor for Toys for Tots and we even got to appear on a local radio station (WZON AM 620 The Pulse) to talk about the event. The crew at the Mall had a large, metal platform for R2-D2 to be on, a black backdrop and roped off area/line organizer for easy crowd control. Melissa's Mom and Dad were in town and helped out as well. Ron was helping folks with their picture needs, taking the pictures on their cell phones so everyone could be in the photo. Ron's wife was helping collect donation.
Unlike past events where I am trying to do many things at once, this great team made my job easy...keep R2-D2 beeping, chirping and interacting with visitors.
|Back Row - Karen Current, Melissa Gerety and James Gerety|
Front Row - Paul J. Bussiere, Patrick and Ron Gerety
We scheduled the event from 11 am to 1 pm. Since I got there very early and everything was already setup, we started at 10:30. We went beyond 1 pm since we had a queue going and wrapped up at 1:30. The news media came out in force to cover this unique event.
And another first for me, we made the front page of the local newspaper!
The black back drop allowed me to take some really nice pics of R2.
One visitor brought her daughter, Leia, over to visit with R2. And yes, she is indeed named after Princess Leia. She shared this wonderful picture of her daughter and R2...
We collected a LOT of toy donations and monetary donations as well. It was a fantastic event that started off as just an idea to see Santa. While we never quite made it to Santa...there's always next year!