Kevin Donnelly is a guy from Long Island who has been contemplating what to do with his life. A one-time entrepreneur, he is now thinking about a possible career change.
So I have been duly pitching him in the joys and sorrows of advice giving. Our holy orders need more good guys. Smart, soulful, and with tons of business experience, Kevin and I were close to getting together in a couple of engagements.
Then Hurricane Maria happened in Puerto Rico. "I just thought that it meant that the kids in Puerto Rico were going to have a lousy Christmas," Kevin told me. Except Kevin would never use a mealy-mouthed word like "lousy." He meant they would have a really, really bad Christmas.
He got the idea for a gift drive directed at Puerto Rico's displaced kids. You know, the ones living in shelters across the island. He arranged logistics so that the kids would have toys for Three Kings Day. Three Kings actually falls not on Christmas but January 6th, but the idea is that the season would be saved. So he decided to start a toy drive with a really large goal: 10,000 toys for Puerto Rico's kids.
Entrepreneurs find a need and fill it. Socialpreneurs do the same--they find a social need and fill it. In Kevin's case, being a dad helps. It also helps that he has a restless intelligence that is always looking for a challenge.
An island devastated by a storm? Kevin first thought of solar panels to address the obvious challenges to the utility infrastructure--and I believe this is going to be an ongoing effort.
But with government and private charities focused on the island's long-term capabilities, Kevin allowed himself to think about the kids' short-term needs. He popped up a charity to fill this one-time need, much like the retail carts that pop up in malls at Christmas time.
Allies From Entrepreneurs
He also recruited allies from entrepreneurial communities near his home in New York--specifically from Kevin Gersh of the Long Island YPO and Jacob Wegrzyn and Alejandro Uriarte from the Puerto Rico YPO. Help also came from the Entrepreneurs' Organization--a.k.a. the EO. Those who know the YPO and the EO say that this is not the most natural of alliances--but these groups put their competitive feelings aside for the mission.
How Can I Help?
Toy Story says it is delivering hope--by ship. And the ship sets sail soon from Jacksonville, Florida. If you'd like to send a new, unwrapped toy to a homeless kid in Puerto Rico, you can follow instructions on the Toy Story website. The toys need to arrive by the 18th of December to make the sailing date, so if you are interested, don't wait. Do it now.
If you decide to help, you will be joining the U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots operation and a logistics company, MasTec. These are the folks who will help with on-island distribution. There's an Amazon page for choosing the toys and using click-and-ship to the debarkation site. Like I said. A good cause--do it now.
When do we start, Kevin?
I figured once the kids get their 10,000 toys, Kevin would be available to do a little coaching, especially around his passion for hiring A players. God knows we need more people with this expertise. The guy is an A player magnet.
"Well, man, I've done some thinking," he just told me. "I don't want to just give advice any more." This means he is returning to the world of entrepreneurship--or social entrepreneurship--and not advising others.
"This whole toy thing has shown me I need to get real stuff done," he said.
Except Kevin would never use a mealy-mouth word like "stuff."