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Last Friday night, I realized a lifelong dream (no, I didn’t meet David Letterman, while I was appearing as a cast member on Saturday Night Live*)…I got to be a MASCOT!  Years of stuffing myself into cardboard boxes, Halloweens spent bearing 20 lb. pumpkins atop my head, and weeks of constructing and wearing over-sized paper maché heads had all prepared me for this moment.  I climbed into the giant yellow costume, wobbled a bit, and finally got myself upright.  Quickly, I was transformed from a diminutive woman into a seven foot tall walking Pencil.  I had become Pencil Pete!

You may be wondering…why would a gal do such a thing?  Well, anyone who knows me would not be shocked by this.  I love to dress up, my motto being the bigger the better!  But, truly, how did the opportunity arise for me to play the role of an enormous pencil?  Well, let me make my point…

The event:  The Celebrity Spelling Bee.  The organization:  Schoolhouse Supplies.  My link to this event had been a few years in the making.  Tripwire has worked with Schoolhouse Supplies for five years. This worthwhile organization provides backpacks and school supplies to Portland kids who would otherwise go without.  They believe that every child deserves school supplies and has the right to a quality education.  Apparently, the good folks at Tripwire believe it too!

This past fall, a call to action went out to our Portland employees, encouraging them to donate funds to  Schoolhouse Supplies, via the Tools for Schools campaign.  And that call was heeded—BIG time—as Tripwire raised $3000.00 for the cause!  Amidst challenging economic times people dug down deep to show that they care about the community in which they live.

Over the past five years, Tripwire has raised thousands of dollars for Schoolhouse Supplies.  This generosity has enabled hundreds of kids to start the school year as they should, with new backpacks filled with notebooks, folders, paper, pens, pencils and numerous other supplies.  Teachers have also benefited from gift cards toward classroom supplies.

On a sunny September afternoon last fall, eight of us lucky Tripwirians had the opportunity to deliver the backpacks to Woodmere Elementary School and hand them directly to the children, whose smiles and “thank yous” warmed our hearts.  Seeing them receive these items was amazing and left us wanting to do more.  And we will!

Still…why the over-sized pencil?  Well, through our work with the Tools for Schools campaign I came to discover that the mascot for Schoolhouse Supplies is Pencil Pete, a super friendly—and large—writing utensil.  I mentioned to a Schoolhouse Supplies representative that I would love nothing more than to be Pencil Pete (My gaze was steely as I said this; she was frightened.).   I was certain that the waiting list for the position would be long, the preparation would be grueling, and the jealousy of my rivals would be stinging… still I persisted in my mission.

And so, a month ago I received the news that would change my life forever (or at least for one night)…I had been selected (from hundreds, I imagine) to don the costume of the much beloved Pencil Pete for the Portland Celebrity Spelling Bee, the biggest fundraiser of the year for Schoolhouse Supplies!  Immediately, I began my training (cue “Montage”).   I had to sharpen my skills!

So, last Friday I excitedly left work (usually I’m not excited at all to leave work) and hoofed it down to the Portland Art Museum (I tell you, I really got the lead out!)  I was escorted into the volunteer area, where I was shown my costume and given my schedule for the night.  Trembling with joy, I climbed into the giant yellow costume, wobbled a bit, and finally got myself upright…

From then on it’s all a blur, a smudge, if you will.  I do remember lots of hugging, handshaking and flashing the thumbs up sign with my giant four fingered hands.  And I have a strange recollection of being cheered on as I Moonwalked across the stage, to the sounds of a local high school marching band.  Watch out Justin Timberlake (Bring it on down to Teacher Town!).

The details may be foggy, but the experience will never be erased from my memory.  Perhaps I will write about it one day…in a composition book.

But at least for now you know the point of this story.

Thank you, Tripwire and Schoolhouse Supplies, for helping me fulfill my dream!

Write on,

Kate, a.k.a. Pencil Pete


*This will happen, and I’ll let you know when it does!