POSTED ON APRIL 28, 2010:
Give Up the Change
Tulsa teens take small steps to make a big difference with Change It!
Make a Change. Red Alert is one of the headlining bands of the Change It! Show, which is raising change — literally — for AIDS research and awareness.
Near the end of each day, most of us do the same thing: We empty our pockets and find a small handful of change.
Some might pick it up again the next morning, while others put it in a jar, or perhaps (in my case) slip it into the ashtray of our car for future use. Usually, that small amount of money seems fairly irrelevant and slides to the back of our minds, but have you ever stopped to think about what an impact those few coins might actually be able to make?
A group of teens from the Tulsa metropolitan area did, and that inspired them to try and make a difference in our world. Their efforts weren't founded on a whim or planned for the short-term, however. Instead, they formed and registered an official 501c(3) non-profit organization with the intent to create an impact in the long-term.
By building on a desire to help others and affect the world around them, Ashley Herndon, Kory Myers and Conor McMichael came together with the support of their church, Central Church of the Nazarene, and youth group to form Change It!, a non-profit organization focused on raising funds for AIDS relief and awareness one coin at a time.
When asked how these three friends came up with the idea to form the organization, Kory Myers (age 18 and a senior at Jenks High School) said that his mom went to a conference in 2007 and returned with the idea that the change in your pocket could make a difference. At the time, it was an idea that he and his friends embraced but didn't know how to act upon.
Then, during December 2008 and January 2009, Myers went on a mission trip to India and worked at an orphanage where he got to see, first-hand, the damage and devastation that AIDS causes for families as well as individuals. When he returned, he had the inspiration needed to help the concept of making an impact with pocket change a reality.
Ashley Herndon (also 18 and a senior at Broken Arrow High School) said she wanted to get involved and help make a change in the world, but didn't know how.
She later found statistics (which vary by source) that show that AIDS effects more than 40 million people worldwide and more than 15 million children have lost a parent to AIDS.
When Myers, who attends the same church, returned from India and related what he had experienced, the focus for their efforts was apparent and close friend Conor McMichael (age 17 and a junior at Coweta High School) was quick to be a part of what they were doing.
With the support of their home church, the three came together and formed Change It! The rest -- as they say -- is history.
By displaying globe-shaped receptacles at local retailers and restaurants such as Charlie's Chicken, Ron's Hamburgers, select Starbucks locations and B52's Pizza, the organization collects loose change, which is then redirected to organizations funding AIDS relief programs.
The primary recipient of funds at the moment is Global NIM (Network of Independent Missions), which funds the orphanage that Myers visited and is helping build a hospital compound in Putur, India. Additional recipients are being chosen as funds are raised.
The real concept behind the organization, Myers explained: "We've all seen those organizations where you can sponsor a kid for $30 a month, but not everyone can afford to do that. Everyone has change in their pocket, though. If you spend $1.07 for a drink at Quik Trip, where does that other 93 cents go? Back in your pocket and probably towards your next drink, but that little bit of change can add up and make a difference in someone's life."
Why are these kids and their charity being discussed here, though, you might ask? The reason is, these kids really do have a vision.
Although they formed Change It! out of their church, they know AIDS isn't just a Christian issue, it effects everyone, and they want to make this an "everyone" charity.
In order to draw attention to the cause and raise funds, they have organized a benefit concert at Riverwalk Crossing Saturday, May 1, and have enlisted outside sources and bands of differing genres to help raise awareness. They have also stepped up their efforts and will be attempting to break a Guinness World Record for collecting the most amount of money in coins for a charity in one day, in order to make it a special event.
In order to make a run at the world record, the group will set up booths near the amphitheater entrance of Riverwalk Crossing at 10am on Saturday morning to begin collecting change and draw awareness to the cause. Background music will be playing throughout the day, but a free concert will then commence beginning at 4pm on the amphitheater stage.
The Celebrate Recovery Praise Band will open the stage at 4pm, following by a young new bluegrass/country band known as T-Town Theory at 5pm. Once 6pm arrives, however, the music starts heating up with a couple of Tulsa's rising stars.
Paul Benjaman Band has agreed to donate its time and services to the cause and will be performing at 6pm with a set and stage time that is being sponsored and promoted by KMOD (97.5FM).
As you know, this group represented Tulsa's music scene in Austin at the recent SXSW music festival in March and received great reviews. As a testament to the band's commitment to giving back to the community, the group agreed to play this show, even though it has another commitment the same night. The band will get the crowd fired up with a minute set, and then the members will hit the road for a show in Stillwater just a couple hours later.
The Red Alert will follow with a 7pm set sponsored by The Edge (104.5FM) and Homegroan and will feature a number of tunes from the band's latest release, Audible Frequency, before wrapping up at 8pm. This is a commitment for The Red Alert as well, as guitarist Hank Hanewinkle III departs this show to play another gig, playing drums for And There Stand Empires at Soundpony, immediately following the Change It! event.
Change It! will then turn the stage back over to Riverwalk Crossing, which officially launches its concert season with another artist that was still being confirmed at press time. While change will still be collected until the evening comes to a close, the counting will begin in an effort to see if a new world record can be set.
So how much money needs to be collected? The current world record is 152,217GBP, which is right around $230,000 USD. Granted, that's a lot of money and might seem out of reach, but McMichael puts it in perspective by pointing this out: "There are over 500,000 people in the Tulsa metro area and if each of them were donate 50 cents, we could easily beat the record."
Although we won't see everyone in Tulsa come strolling through Riverwalk Crossing Saturday, if everyone that does come through donates a little pocket change, whether its 25 cents or $2, it all adds up. And even if a new world record isn't set, it all goes to AIDS relief and still proves that we can all make a change in our world with the change in our pockets.
If you're in South Tulsa this Saturday -- or even if you're not -- make an effort to come by Riverwalk Crossing and help these kids out. If you swing by in the evening, you'll even catch some cool tunes by Celebrate Recovery Praise Band, T-Town Theory, Paul Benjaman Band and The Red Alert and be able to support a cause that each of the bands and KMOD and The Edge have all rallied behind.
You can find out more about Change It!, where the group is collecting change and what the organization is all about online at: changeitwithchange.blogspot.com.
Once again it's a busy weekend in Tulsa, whether you're looking for local music or touring bands. You never have to fear. Read on to catch the highlights or turn a few pages and check out complete calendar of live music listings. Here's the short list to get you started.
Thursday nights are always fun at Arnie's, especially if you dig Irish music and hang out with Cairde na Gael. The evening's big show on April 29, however, is the Pick Up the Phone Tour with Blue October, Stars of Track and Field and Hurricane Bells at Cain's Ballroom. You can find a full preview on page 46.
Friday, April 30, has a couple of big shows for different audiences. Progressive and hard rock fans can't miss at Cain's Ballroom with Coheed and Cambria headlining and support from Circa Survive and Torche. Blues-rock fans, however, will want to make a visit to Osage Event Center where Kenny Wayne Shepherd returns for a powerful Friday night blow-out of a show.
On a smaller scale, Mayday Parade headlines the Marquee with a full bill of support acts, and Clint Osmus and the Bushmills play Mercury Lounge. Meanwhile Heady P spins at Soundpony, Jesse Aycock plays Arnie's and Native Son anchors the music at Hunt Club.
Of course, I've already talked about the Change It! show at Riverwalk Crossing on Saturday evening with T-Town Theory, Paul Benjaman Band and The Red Alert, but it bears repeating and your attention.
The big show on May 1, however, is Widespread Panic at BOK Center. Even though Widespread is getting all the talk, you can't overlook the opening act when Robert Randolph and the Family Band makes a long overdue return to Tulsa, making this ticket well worth the price.
Meanwhile, Lisa Lampinelli brings a comedy show to the Convention Center on Saturday night and the clubs are packed as Two Tons of Steel headlines the Kidney Cancer association benefit at Cain's; Daniels, Panda Resistance and And There Stand Empires play Soundpony; Texas Hippie Coalition headlines The Marquee; Hosty Duo settles in at Eclipse; William Joseph Band plays The Hunt Club and Jackson Taylor and the Sinners take over at Mercury Lounge.
Sunday night marks the triumphant return of Strange Tide with a show at Soundpony with special guests Motive for Movement and Scales of Motion.
Strange Tide has been on hiatus, so don't miss the chance to see the band get back to work! Of course, if you're looking for something a little more mellow, Brandon Clark always keeps things chill at Mercury Lounge with an acoustic set on Sunday nights and you might even catch Mike Williams (formerly of Agony Scene) playing a song or two.
Finally, wrap up your week and get ready for festival season with the "Wakarusa pre-party" at Bob's on Tuesday, May 4 with Mountain Sprout, Dirtfoot and Moai Broadcast.
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