Award #65: Spare Change

Do you know someone who can take the littlest bit of money—say a few coins—and make it go a long way? That’s exactly what the guys behind Spare Change are doing. They’re taking the spare change they make while busking (street performing) and using it to make an awesome impact in the city. The crowd and trustees at Awesome Pittsburgh’s March Pitch Party had the opportunity to hear about how this impromptu gesture turned into a sustained movement that’s taking social media by storm.

The idea for Spare Change began after playing an open mic night on Carson Street. Table Ten bandmates Josh Corcoran, Willam Peters, Jared Stillman finished performing around 10pm and realized they had more energy to burn. Inspired by the warm weather, they decided to start playing outside. When a homeless person walked by and asked for money, they gave him everything they’d collected in their guitar case. Shortly after, when a young man commented his girlfriend wasn’t making any money playing up the street, the guys from Spare Change moved up the block to play with her. In talking, they found out she had just lost her job and was busking to make money to pay bills. They set up and played with her for the remainder of the night, helping her raise more money.

The experience was filmed by their videographer, Taylor Mantick, and shared online. The positive reaction to that night of impromptu playing and charitable giving inspired the guys to head back out on the street again.

During the second night busking, a local minister was inspired listening to their music and joined them for an impromptu jam session singing “Stand By Me” with the guys. His stellar pipes with Spare Change’s talent drew a small crowd that helped raise a good bit of money. In the spirit of the previous experience, Spare Change surprised him by donating the money raised from that night to his church. That video pulled over 3,600 views in one day.

Recognizing the awesome opportunity to use their talents to help others and give back to the community, Spare Change was born. Josh Corcoran shared that “the guys behind the movement are excited to not only do good for fellow Pittsburghers, we love having the opportunity to highlight why Pittsburgh is so awesome—specifically, the people and the places. With Spare Change, we want to show that random acts of kindness don’t need a great deal of money to create a positive impact.”

After announcing Spare Change as the winner of the $1000 Awesome Pittsburgh grant at the March Pitch Party, trustee Pete Maher said, “Awesome Pittsburgh is proud to support Spare Change and its human-centered twist on the rich tradition of busking as a means of raising money for those in need. Spare Change is an innovative concept that has the potential to spark a movement that spreads far beyond the streets of Pittsburgh. We hope that our grant will inspire others to join this meaningful cause.”

Moving forward, Spare Change plans to turn their efforts into a web series where each week they take to the streets to spread positivity through music and helping those in need. Each episode will feature new locations and musicians finding a unique way to benefit individuals in Pittsburgh in need. Spare Change wants to serve as a vehicle to launch “crowd giving” creating a platform for those who’ve had success playing music to give back while documenting the journey in a professional docu-series. They’re hoping to highlight Pittsburgh’s spirit of community and caring in a way that will inspire similar movements in cities across the country.

Spare Change will use the grant from Awesome Pittsburgh for advertising costs to promote their videos, to purchase equipment to film them, and to build a website for the movement to have an official home on the web.

In their most recent video (viewed 20,000 times in one week!), they partnered with Voodoo Brewery in Homestead, PA to raise nearly $300 for the Rainbow Kitchen Food Bank. It can be seen at http://www.sparechange.tv. For more information about Spare Change or to contact them about future opportunities, check them out on Facebook or email.

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