AP NEWS

Tattoo artist, kids teams with township trustee to provide toys

December 2, 2017 GMT

La PORTE — Tattoo artist and business owner Pedro “Pete” Escobedo knows life can be tough, and he tries to teach his children the importance of helping those who are less fortunate.

So he was thrilled last year when Pedro Jr., 11, and Racquel, 7, said they wanted to donate some of their toys to charity.

To show his support and reinforce the message, Escobedo encouraged his customers at For Life Tattoo Studio to donate toys. For every toy delivered, he said, the customer’s name went into a drawing to win a gift certificate for $300, $200 or $100.

“We’re doing it again this year, and I’m really excited about it because it was their idea in the first place,” he said about his children.

Last year, Escobedo said, the drive collected about $3,000 worth of new toys — gifts provided to children through the Sand Castle Shelter for Homeless Families in Michigan City.

This year, the Escobedos are teaming up with Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski, who each holiday delivers food baskets and gifts to 30 needy families in and around La Porte.

“I was just talking with one family where the dad was disabled and the mom was fighting cancer, and they just wanted to give their kids a pair of socks for Christmas,” Pierzakowski said.

“So we’ll put a ham or a turkey into a basket along with some other food items, maybe get them some new clothes, and we’ll wrap up toys for the kids and put it all under the tree.”

Pierzakowski said she has been working this year with elementary schools in the township to identify families that may need a boost during the holidays. She encourages people to pick up extra gift cards while they’re out shopping to donate to the poor.

“There’s still a significant need in this community,” she said.

The Escobedo children, students in the New Prairie school system, seemed genuinely happy to help as they looked through the collection they started.

Pedro Jr. had to think twice about giving up his tiny Halo action figure, still staring out at him from its clear plastic packaging, but he said he had no regrets about his decision.

“Absolutely,” he said with a wide grin when asked about whether he felt good about helping others.

Pete Escobedo said he knows hardship. His eight-member family lived in a tiny two-bedroom house when he was growing up, and a recent divorce has been hard on his kids.

“It’s a good life lesson for my kids: You should always be willing to give,” he said. “My children mean the world to me, and I know other people feel the same way about their children.”

Tattoo artist Libby Fedder and piercer Aubrey Stanton are helping the Escobedos.

Donations of unopened and unwrapped toys can be made through Dec. 20 with the drawing for gift certificates scheduled at the end of the day.

More information is available on Facebook or at the For Life Tattoo Studio, 1402 Lincoln Way, (219) 369-6933.

Although donations to the Center Township Trustee’s Office are not tax-deductible, they are always welcome, Pierzakowski said.

The office is at 1700 Lincoln Way Place, Suite 6, and more information is available at 362-1021 or at centertownship@gmail.com.