The youth or adult can then barter to exchange that item for a piece of our gear that has a positive drug-free message. We often get alcohol and tobacco themed t-shirts, hats, mugs, key chains, and a wide assortment of other promotional items – including, ironically, a Marlboro backpack and a Camel cigarettes gym bag.
The items we offer in exchange can vary but usually include t-shirts, sports bottles, and sports equipment such as soccer balls. We have had an ice cream sundae buffet at our event as an incentive to participate – each person bringing in an item to exchange receives a ticket to go through the buffet. Additional family members can pay to go through.
We generally hold our event in conjunction with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Kick Butts Day (usually in early April or at the end of March each year). We generally don’t hold it as a stand-alone activity; we prefer it as an element of a larger evening event that might include handing out the awards to the alcohol and tobacco Logo Lampoon art contest winners.
We advertise the Gear Exchange in the local newspapers and with flyers at schools to generate as much community involvement as possible. At the conclusion of the event, we go through all of the items we have received and save any we might use for a presentation of some type. The remainder we cut or destroy so they will not get back into circulation.