3 Mahoning Valley shops offer tattoos to toy donors

By christine keeling


Tattoo shops are giving to help

children get a present this holiday.

Artistic Dermagraphics in Youngstown and Spider’s Tattoo and Bareknuckle Tattoo in Austintown are offering $20 gift certificates to anyone who donates a new unwrapped toy with a value of $10 at any of the shops through Dec. 17.

The items collected during the Toys-4-Tats campaign will be donated to the U.S. Marine Corps for its Toys for Tots Foundation.

“It’s our way of giving back,” said Gary “Spider” Steyer, owner of Spiders Tattoo. “And help make a child smile.”

The Toys for Tots Foundation is in its 64th year. Its goal is to give less fortunate children a message of hope, through the delivery of a toy, and create a positive memory.

Last year, the program distributed more than 16.7 million toys to nearly

7.2 million children in more than 700 communities nationwide.

“I think its been quite successful,” said Emiliano DeLeon Jr., chief warrant officer 4 of Toys for Tots. “But, its been

getting a little more difficult because of the economy.”

He said more people are not working and more children need gifts.

Steyer said he got motivated to take action after he learned that Youngstown leads the nation in poverty.

The other owners were eager to help.

“This is something different,” said Joe Davila, owner of Bareknuckle Tattoo. “It’s really about helping kids.”

The gift certificates give people who want a tattoo an incentive to help others, but people don’t have to want a tattoo to donate, said Steyer. Tattoos start at $50.

Steyer has filled his toy bin twice in two weeks.

There are more than 190 drop-off locations in

Mahoning and Trumbull counties, DeLeon said,

adding businesses and

organizations that host events or offer incentives help the nonprofit group.

The foundation and the National Football League kicked off the annual Touchdown for Tots campaign. Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers fans can take a toy to each stadium during the teams’ home games Dec. 4 against the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively.

DeLeon said people can be assured toys donated at any Toys for Tot location will get to the right people.

“We are the Marines, and we are the face of Toys for Tots,” he said.

For a list of drop-off locations, visit vienna-oh.toysfortots.org.

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