We received such a positive response from Saturday’s GivePins profile that I wanted to invite founder Mathew Poage back to write about why he started his non-profit. I was so glad he agreed!! So, without further ado, Mathew:
It’s fun to watch a young kid start pin trading. They go through their starter pins quickly as they begin to trade for pins they like throughout the day. What’s great is watching how their technique changes as the day progresses. All this trading eventually leads to the moment when they march up to a Cast Member, ask if they want to trade pins and then realize that they don’t have a pin they want to give up!! Watching them make that decision is priceless!
Pins serve as keepsakes and reminders of great times in the Parks. They also become a symbol of a child’s own ability to socialize and make friends. It gets kids talking and takes their heads out of iPhones and into the real world. One of the things I love about Disney Pin Trading is the way in which it can engage people socially. Most kids I know who pin trade were initially very shy or hesitant to begin, but once they get their courage up, it becomes a wonderful activity.
Trading pins with Cast Members is safe and easy. Once they get comfortable with pin trading, I watch kids start to branch out away from Cast Members in the park and start spontaneously approaching and interacting with other kids. My own daughter has, of her own accord, walked up to other kids and said, “I really like your pins.” That takes the kind of courage I want to support 100%.
I decided to try doing more than giving away my personal pins because of my daughter. She showed me how this activity can really spread joy to others in such a simple way: she spontaneously gave two little boys she had befriended some Mickey pins, and they were excited and appreciative of the gift. What was really spectacular, however, was seeing those same two boys at the end of the night—they were wearing FIVE pins each on their shirts and had been trading and conversing with people all day long about them.
They chattered for a half hour with my daughter about pins and pin trading and the cool things they’d found and seen. To me, this really demonstrated for the first time the power such a simple act of generosity can have. It was only a moment of giving, but it resulted in a whole day of happiness.
To me, pin trading is that simple and that powerful, and that’s why I want to share it. At its core, pin trading doesn’t require more than an initial investment in pins or a Starter Pin Set. But that initial investment can be expensive—sometimes $30-60 per person on top of an already expensive Disney vacation… Well, that’s where GivePins tries to help.
I hope you’ll join us by giving away pins next time you visit Disney Parks or making a donation to our cause. Your donation will be used to purchase pins (or pin sets!) that will be given out inside Disney Parks.
When he’s not handing out pins in the Parks, Mathew Poage runs an IT company in Southern California. Learn more about GivePins or join the cause at GivePins.com.