A Group of Free Staters Builds Community through Giving
by Tony Jankowski
The Lakes Region Porcupines (LRP) want to be known as folks who move to New Hampshire and get to work in the community. We like to think that we can win hearts and minds, but first we need to introduce ourselves without making people cringe. We do this by giving our time and talents to charities that want to work with us.
For the past three years, we’ve run LRP Beach Day, a barbecue and day of fun for liberty activists and friends. In the first two years, we raised $450 for Center Harbor Food Pantry. This year we chose a new beneficiary, the Lakes Region Humane Society, an organization that cares for animals in a no-kill shelter and doesn’t receive state or federal funding.
While I played second in command to Lola, the Lakes Region’s Liberty Wonder Dog, I had more help than ever. Thanks to the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire and Darryl W. Perry’s Liberty Lobby LLC, we were set to purchase our food. Lakes Region Coca Cola helped too, as they had in years past. And when the food bill was due, our purchasers told us it was on them. All in all, we donated $630 and a big box of supplies and food for the shelter. Pictured: Tony Jankowski, left, and Glen Aldrich present Megan Fichter, managing director of the Lakes Region Humane Society, a check for $630.
Why Beach Day?
We wanted to run a summertime barbecue on one of the many beautiful lakes in our region - to show it off and invite Free Staters to enjoy some fellowship. But we also wanted to give back and interact with the locals in a positive way. With so much hatred and tension in our world, especially nowadays, our social and charitable events allow us to forget animosity while breaking bread and serving the less fortunate. Beach Day was not our first foray into service. Four years ago, we set out to fill a void in the community, and it is likely our best known activism.
The Lakes Region Porcupines Toy Drive
The Toy Drive came to life after Glen Aldrich, who was working for the Center Harbor Food Pantry, overheard a conversation with a young mother looking for help to purchase a few toys for her kids. She recently became a single mother and missed the deadlines for the major toy drives in our area. When we realized that those toy drives stop collecting names in November, we knew that we could help by raising funds, collecting toys, and distributing them to needy families right up until the week before Christmas.
We served 25 children in our first year and 40 the next. Last year, with the help of online celebrities and generous donations from locals and the liberty community, we served more than 105 kids. Those who helped didn’t slouch either: we were handing out bicycles, skateboards with helmets, video games and lots and lots of dolls.
Now we are heading into our fourth season, and we are fundraising early. We are looking for sponsors and donors, both in and out of the liberty community, and it’s never too early to donate. Unlike many charities, 100% of the money we collect goes directly to our charitable endeavors. We choose to do this as our activism, so our gas and supplies all come out of our own pockets. We are setting out to prove that a small group of people can effectively run a project in which donations benefit recipients without losing a chunk of the money to administrative cost.
Advancing Liberty through Charity
While there are some out there who claim that we are acting in bad faith, or that we serve the community to compensate for the fact that we want to destroy their roads, most within the community see our presence as a benefit. It’s interesting to see the folks we have helped defend us on social media. While some liberty activists upset the locals so greatly that they spawn hate groups against us, it’s nice to see that we are here making allies and friends with those who might otherwise fight us.
Our philosophy of getting a foot in the door by making ourselves valuable to the community is spreading. Just this past week, I ventured up to North Conway, where there is no real organized liberty community. There I met with lone wolf libertarians who are inspired by our actions and want to help their community as a step toward creating a dialogue with their neighbors. I smell a Saco River Porcupines group starting soon.
But What Are the Results of our Acts?
Service leads to conversations, and as we talk, our neighbors discover that we have a lot in common. People see that they can work with us and that we are genuine Granite Staters, just as they are, even though some of our views differ. Here are a few results of our approach:
A major party asked us to host a candidates’ night, where we were the moderators of the questions and were able to get candidates on record discussing libertarian issues. We were sought because people in our community trust us to be neutral arbiters.
We have been in the local paper numerous times. Usually folks will see our ugly mugs with piles of bagged trash we’ve picked from the side of the road, or handing a check to a worthy cause. People see the porcupine on our shirts and know it is a symbol of good, and we often remind folks that many of us are Free Staters. We feel that in our region, the term “Free Stater” has a positive connotation.
People vote for us because we are Free Staters. When we run for office, extremist hate groups like Granite State Progress run mailers informing people that we are Free Staters. But it wasn’t surprising in the last election to see a constituent come up to one of our state representatives and confront him about this mailer. “Are you a Free Stater? Is this you?” When the representative replied in the affirmative, the person shook his hand and said that this mailer was “the reason I’m voting for you.”
A Beneficial Approach for Everyone
Adopting a service-oriented method of activism could benefit everyone in the liberty community. I was raised by my parents to serve others, and my Scouting career taught me the value of doing a good turn daily. We, as early movers, have the duty to build the infrastructure of goodwill with our actions and efforts for those who will come after us. I am going to raise my sons in this state and likely in this region. It benefits me to have deep ties with the people whose families have lived here for decades.
Community connection allows us to strengthen our businesses and our ties to local government, and to dispel the idea that we want to take away what others love about New Hampshire. After all, to steal a phrase that has been one of our mottos, we are here to “Keep New Hampshire Awesome.”
Lakes Region Porcupines meets every third Saturday of the month at noon at the New Hong Kong Buffet in Belmont, NH. We welcome all, from progressive to tea party, from anarchist to dirty statist, and we typically draw from a wide array of the public. Come on up and check out our gorgeous region and enjoy some sub-par Chinese food in the company of some of the most dedicated activists in the state.
To donate to the 4th Annual LRP Toy Drive: e-mail us at LRPToyDrive@gmail.com, which is also our PayPal address. We are looking for all sort of volunteers, especially those who could help us build a website and accept donations online more efficiently.
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