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Half A Million Stamps Given Away In A Day

By Randall Sherman
VSC Special Correspondent

The Chicago Philatelic Society's "Stamps for Kids" program smashed the total of last year's record one-day stamp giveaway when CPS members and other volunteers distributed more than 502,000 stamps at the Taste of Chicago on Sunday, July 2.

Led by "Stamps for Kids" coordinator and VSC member Andy Oleksiuk, the volunteers handed out bags at the booth (located in Chicago's Grant Park at the south end of the Taste, in the Family Fest area), which the youngsters filled up with stamps of their choice. The kids were also given coupons from the American Philatelic Society which will entitle them to a free bucket of stamps when redeemed at APS Stampshow 2006 (to be held in Rosemont, Illinois, August 24-27).

Oleksiuk and other volunteers also took completed packets of stamps out into the main area of the Taste (which stretches for nearly three-fourths of a mile along Columbus Drive in Grant Park), to hand out stamp to youngsters.

Candid Pictures - Click for a Larger View

Volunteers for the Chicago Philatelic Society's "Stamps for Kids" Stamp Giveaway begin putting up the signage (including oversize images of U.S. stamps) at the booth used for the July 2 event at the Taste of Chicago, at about 10:15 am.

By 10:45 am, the first youngster had stopped by the booth (the Taste and the Stamp giveaway were to formally start at 11 am). As you can see, he was quite happy with his packet of free stamps.

Al Kugel (right), a Chicago Philatelic Society Board Member and one of the world's most noted and prolific philatelic exhibitors, came down to the Taste to help with the setup and the giveaway. Here he is assisting Claudia Lasak, the wife of fellow CPS Board Member and "Stamps for Kids" Coordinator Andy Oleksiuk in taping up the signs along the sides of the booth.

A mother and daughter look through a bin of stamps (mostly U.S. on paper).

Local philatelist Richard Favish (center) was among the volunteers who helped distribute the stamps and answer questions about philately from parents and kids alike during the day.

By noon, the booth was seeing a steady stream of children and their parents.

As you can see, the kids quickly saw the fun in philately, particularly when you found an off-paper stamp that still had some gum on it.

With about seven trays and tubs of stamps placed across three long tables in the booth, it was fairly easy for kids to look through the available stamps at the giveaway.

View from the outside of the "Stamps for Kids" booth, which was located in the Family Fun area of the Taste of Chicago (at the south end of the Taste, by Balbo and Columbus Drive).

The view from the back of the booth area. Since the booths were open, some signage was set up on the back poles so that anyone coming from that direction would have an idea what was going on at the booth. [Photo by Dan Oleksiuk]

Another look from behind the booth. Al Kugel (center) looks toward the camera while helping out kids at the center table of the booth, while Randall Sherman (right-rear, in the red APS shirt) faces some of the youngsters he is assisting in the front of the booth. [Photo by Dan Oleksiuk]

Another view of the front of the "Stamps for Kids" booth, taken at about 2 p.m., showing the level of activity continued to be strong.

A youngster realizes that the stamps in his baggie come from all over the world, while Andy Oleksiuk (right) gives him some more information about stamp collecting.

CPS Vice President John Kevin Doyle is seen inserting two important slips of paper into the baggies the kids would soon be filling up with stamps; a sheet letting the youngsters know that more information on stamps is available at the CPS Web site (with links there to other philatelic sites), and a coupon from the American Philatelic Society for the kids to redeem at Stampshow 2006 next month for a free bucket of additional stamps).

Not content to simply let youngsters find their way to the "Stamps for Kids" booth in the south corner of the Taste, Andy Oleksiuk (right) ventured into the heart of the rows of restaurant booths that stretched for more than a half-mile to give out packets of stamps. Here he is yelling out, "Free stamps for kids," right after he gave a youngster one of his stamp packets.

Two more boys receive bags of free stamps from Andy Oleksiuk at the Taste of Chicago.

CPS Vice President John Kevin Doyle (right) also went out into the crowd and handed out stamps to youngsters.

At mid-afternoon, the tubs of stamps still had lots of activity from kids who were very happy to get some free stamps. For those wanting further information about collecting, two additional handouts were available (and can be seen on the table in the photo): a philatelic calendar of local meetings and shows in the Chicago area running until Stampshow in late August, and copies of some "Collectors Workshop" columns from Linn's Stamp News, dating back about seven years.

It was simply amazing how many kids flocked to the booth.

Two youngsters, intent on picking out the stamps they wanted to take home with them.

By 4:30 p.m., the tubs that were once filled with stamps were a bit lighter. Still, there were plenty of great stamps for the kids to select.

Often the adults who came by the booth seemed happier than the kids about the youngsters receiving free stamps (or it may have been simply that the grownups understood the value of the stamps and how it could start a lifelong interest for these children).

It's 6 p.m. in this picture, and there were still a lot of interesting-looking stamps for the kids that were still coming by to the booth! But as you can see, the tubs were emptying out at last.

Just before 6:30 pm, these twin sisters filled up their bags of stamps. One of the sisters was just too interested in getting a bunch of nice stamps to look up for the photo. Hey, we understand.

With all of the stamps having been given out, Andy Oleksiuk (left) and his brother Dan start packing up the tubs, signs and supplies just before 7 pm.

Packing it in: (L-R) "Stamps for Kids" Coordinator Andy Oleksiuk, Dan Oleksiuk, CPS member Jane Doyle and CPS Vice President John Kevin Doyle.

All photos by Randall Sherman, except where noted.

Read Andy Oleksiuk's report in our message board.

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