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Potato Salad Fundraising Success Inspires Lawyer to Start Kickstarter to Help Homeless

Categories: Community

kickstarterpotato.jpg
Eric Fogleman
Thomas Harvey has an idea for Kickstarter that's not potato salad.
If one guy in Ohio can raise $70,000 in a week for potato salad, then surely a St. Louis non-profit can raise $15,000 in a month to help the homeless, right?

That's what Thomas Harvey, founder of Arch City Defenders, is hoping.

After Harvey saw the Kickstarter campaign for potato salad that went uber-viral this week, he bought a tub of Schnucks potato salad and launched a Kickstarter of his own.

See also: ArchCity Defenders: Meet the legal superheroes fighting for St. Louis' downtrodden

No, Harvey isn't raising money to mix mayo with tuberous starches. He wants $15,000 to shoot and edit a series of videos giving the homeless people living in St. Louis a platform to share their own stories.

"So many people think folks are homeless because those people made 'bad choices,'" Harvey says. "Everyday things drive people into homelessness. We are not able to hear their stories very often."

Harvey says he's been kicking around the idea for a video series for a while now and even asked filmographer Ben Kaplan to shoot the footage. He wants to use the videos to give homeless people a platform to be heard and to share their stories about getting caught in complicated legal ensnarements.

"But we haven't had the funding to do anything like that," Harvey tells RFT. Then Harvey stumbled upon the potato salad campaign.

"I couldn't believe it," he says. "I thought, what would people do if they could back something that could help people?"

Harvey bought some potato salad of his own, sat at his desk and made his pitch in a quickie, iPhone video.

"I thought it would be kind of funny, tongue in cheek," he says. "If it works and ends up raising the money, that would be fantastic. It would be a huge boost to the folks we represent."

Harvey says the homeless men and women he helps often care just as much about being heard as they do about getting off the streets.

"We've just come to see it is at least as important that our clients be able to tell their stories and that people be able to hear the real life impact of the legal system on people who are trying to make a change in their lives and get through on a day-to-day basis," he says.

Want to donate? Here's Harvey's Kickstarter: "It's Not Potato Salad, It's A Film About Ending Homelessness."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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19 comments
Thomas SanFilippo
Thomas SanFilippo

You're hilarious. "Smart guy?" Haven't heard that in about 12 years. Way to dust off an old gem. What's next you gonna say "don't have a cow man?"

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

That was also not a serious statement smart guy.

Thomas SanFilippo
Thomas SanFilippo

Yea cool. Love how it's ok for you to "joke" about that, but any retort makes me a skin head. That seems fair. POTATO SALAD POWER!

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

It was not a serious statement you silly boy but I'm glad you are such a warrior for the white race.

Thomas SanFilippo
Thomas SanFilippo

Yea white people are responsible for all kinds of horrible inventions like... cars, computers, phones, planes... Only a white person? Lol. What have you personally ever come up with?

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

Bullcrap. Potato salad sucks. It's potatoes and mayo. Only a white person could come up with a food so horrible.

Irene Brooks
Irene Brooks

Finally a kickstarter NOT for personal gain!

Thomas SanFilippo
Thomas SanFilippo

Just one problem with the concept... Everyone loves potato salad. Everyone wants to spend money on potato salad, take it home, put it in their mouth, and enjoy it. The homeless on the other hand... not so much.

Nicole Hudson
Nicole Hudson

Kickstarter is limited to "making things," so to leverage the momentum, there it is. ACD has done crowd funding in the past for direct services, has a number of grants from traditional sources, does traditional fundraisers, has a few major contracts and some revenue streams. This is a side-effort only happening in response to the potato salad happening. It's a project they've had sitting around in the "would be nice to do" pile for a while, and it hasn't been prioritized because you are right :) - there are better ways to spend $15K - especially in their field of work. But we all know how marketing gets sidelined in the NFP world - and how much it can ultimately help. This confluence provided an opportunity to possibly get it done.

Tara Broadway
Tara Broadway

he prob wont get the money.. people rather donate to a potato salad.. ugggh..

Chris Clark
Chris Clark

perhaps there are better ways to spend $15K than a video

Nicole Hudson
Nicole Hudson

He's raising it to make the videos, not to go to the charity.

Jennifer Ridinsolo
Jennifer Ridinsolo

I would love the see the final video if it gets made....kinda reminds me of ur photos Justin Credible Culton of the homeless. Maybe they could use some of ur photos

Missy Nolan
Missy Nolan

Nice! We were just talking about how this could happen, Jennifer Ridinsolo! I am so happy to see this.

Kenneth Lee M
Kenneth Lee M

Except Kickstarter says it's not for charities ... one of the very few rules they have

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