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Something Bigger Than Yourself
Santas participated in Alton’s Halloween Parade, raising awareness for the Something Bigger Than Yourself fund raiser taking place this holiday season. Through the event, seven children’s homes will receive donations of sports equipment, musical instruments, and holiday dinners.
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ALTON — For its seventh anniversary, a local organization committed to providing Christmas for less fortunate children, Something Bigger Than Yourself is … well, bigger.
“This has been the most humbling experience of my life,” Jay Brook Lipe of Godfrey says. “Everything I have ever done in music, in business, in life, has all led up to this.”
Something Bigger, now a corporation, is committed to raising awareness and helping children during the holiday season by providing them with Christmas dinners, sports equipment and musical instruments.
Lipe, the company’s CEO, says he is collecting rhythm and bass guitars, bongos and congas, drum kits, amplifiers and other musical accessories as well as footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, kick balls, skateboards, Wiffle balls and bats, Frisbees and more to deliver to children’s homes throughout the area.
Beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, the “Something Bigger Than Yourself” concert fundraiser will be held at 300 State St. (first floor of Spirits Lounge). This year, local bands featured will be Dead Planet, Sweet Meat, Sometimes it’s Foggy Sometimes it’s Clear, Phatfinger, Cottonmouth, John Valley, and Lipe’s band, the reunited Ancient Chinese Secret.
Spiral Flow will provide psychedelic hula hoop entertainment.
“The bands will autograph equipment and donate it for the kids,” Lipe says. “This has grown so big this year; Devon Allman (son of Gregg Allman) has autographed a guitar to be donated, also.”
He says while he has collected a large amount of musical and sporting equipment, he can never collect enough, and he still needs monetary donations to cover the costs of holiday dinners for the children.
“You can help with donations … we can show you exactly where your money goes, and you can also help with your time,” he says. “If there is a state you want to help, tell us the state. We will find a home there to serve. There are so many children out there that need help.”
The day after the concert, Lipe will treat the children from Catholic Children’s Home in Alton to a holiday dinner at Golden Corral before leaving on a donation delivery trip, returning Dec. 23. He also wants to provide holiday dinners for the other children’s homes on his list, as well.
Beginning in 2008, Lipe started Something Bigger as a one-man operation.
“I drove by the Catholic Children’s Home in Alton, and I realized there were children spending the night there on Christmas,” he says. “It made my problems seem so much smaller.
“I took my daughter shopping and she picked out toys left and right, and we delivered them to the children’s home.”
Last year, he was able to expand outreach to a second children’s home for the first time. This year, the children’s homes receiving donations include Catholic Children’s Home in Alton, Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services of Missouri in Farmington, Mo., Illinois Masonic Children’s Home in Murphysboro, Ill., Children’s Home Association of Illinois in Peoria, Ill., Marygrove in Florissant, Mo., St. Joseph Children’s Home in Louisville, Ky., and Hope Children’s Home in Jackson, Mo. “I have known all along it would be my dream to help seven homes in 2014, because this is the seventh year of Something Bigger,” he says.
An additional home, which Lipe calls “one to grow on,” is the Illinois Baptist Children’s Home in Capri, Ill.
Lipe says in all, hundreds of children will be reached through the efforts of the organization.
The community also has responded to ensure this year’s Christmas will be special for area children in need. U.S. Bank, Ted’s Motorcycle World, Mac’s Time Out and Alton Sports Tap are sponsors, Samantha Fisher and the staff of Play It Forward in St. Louis are involved, and on Dec. 3, S & S Sandwich Shop (2505 State St., Alton) will donate proceeds from the entire day’s sales to the cause. Holy Angels Catholic Church in Wood River also is assisting in raising funds and awareness.
“A lot of people are getting on board,” Lipe says. “I get emails every day from people I don’t know, wanting to know how they can get involved. I am so grateful;
there is no way we could have done this on our own.”
Lipe has big plans for Something Bigger in 2015, including the addition of music departments in the children’s homes (complete with volunteer music teachers visiting on a regular basis), a summer concert and fundraiser, a visit to children’s homes every month, and the enactment of the Capitola Fund, named after his grandmother, Capitola Lipe, providing flowers and chocolate to residents of area nursing homes to remind them they are important and loved.
He also plans to make Something Bigger a nonprofit corporation by the end of 2015.
“If this changes the life of one child, then I have done my job … the job I was put here to do,” Lipe says. “As a new friend of mine reminded me, ‘kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.’”
Donations can be dropped off at Ted’s Motorcycle World, 4103 N. Humbert Road, Alton (ask for Kyle or Joy). Donation checks can be delivered to U.S. Bank, 1520 Washington Ave., Alton, or sent to Something Bigger Than Yourself, P.O. Box 62, Alton. Donations also can be made through PayPal.
For more information, visit www.somethingbiggerthanyourself.com, the Facebook page at “7th Annual Something Bigger Than Yourself XMAS Benefit 2014,” or call (618) 567-6785.