The area’s schoolchildren have been back in class for a while already, but one area business is still collecting school supplies for Sebring students.
Lowbrow Tattoo of Sebring is working until the end of September to collect backpacks and other school supplies. There’s an incentive for those who make a donation – a discount on a new tattoo.
Those who take part in the promotion will receive $50 off a $100 tattoo.
Don’t worry, though. If you don’t want a tattoo, the store will still take your donation. And, with clearance sales on school supplies in many area stores, the time is right to build the Lowbrow’s collection.
"We’ve received 15 backpacks so far," Sara McElroy, who co-owns the shop with her husband, Bob, said early in the collection process.
She said the drive will help children throughout the district, and a variety of bags and supplies have already been collected that will cover many grades. "The supplies and backpacks can be used in the way the school district feels is best for their students," she said.
Sara McElroy’s background is in leadership, marketing and management. Bob McElroy also has another gig, working as a painter and a contractor for Allstate Insurance. He prepares artwork for the insurer and ships it out for the company’s traveling displays.
The owners have a history of outreach.
"We are a family-oriented shop; we care about others." McElroy said of Lowbrow, at 347 N. 15th St. in Sebring. "My husband, Bob, and I have been doing charity events with art over the past four years. It is a part of our life, and we will always continue to help where we can."
The idea of the school supply collection came from Jeremy Steiner, a team member in the shop, who previously held a supply drive that he said was very helpful to the community.
"I did it before in other places that I was working, and it was a pretty big success," Steiner said. "I mean, there are kids everywhere who just need help, so whatever we can do to help out and support them."
"When Jeremy raised the idea, we were all for it," Sara McElroy said. "Our shop is a team, we all have a voice, and we all talk about planned events and our daily work. I find our shop to be a great friendship, team, and family-friendly to the community."
Steiner, a father of six, said charity work is good for children.
"My children like to donate, as well," he said. "When they have something for a while and they don't use it anymore, instead of just never touching it again or throwing it away, they like to donate it. That is pretty cool."
The McElroys have three children: Shea, 13; Elena, 8; and Samantha, 9.
"They are excited about giving to others," Bob McElroy said. "We donate art, and now tattoos. Our girls have learned great life skills in the philanthropy area over the past four years. They had a lot of fun picking items for our personal backpack donations."
Bob McElroy said the shop has seen a variety of folks come in with supplies for Sebring Local Schools.
"We had a couple people who just donated without the tattoos," he said. "Some people hate tattoos; however, they come in for donating."
Sara McElroy said existing customers also have made donations.
"It is wonderful to see how generous people are with the backpack drive," she said. "We have a customer who brought in more supplies than a $50 discount. I believe people want to help, but a discounted tattoo is a nice reward for kindness. I hope to see more people stop in."
Robert O’Malley is one of those customers.
"I donated a backpack to Lowbrow Tattoo because they are always helping out others whenever they can," he said. "This is a great cause. How can children fully learn if they don’t have the supplies needed. It's not their fault, things happen in life out of parents’ control.
"I was thrilled to help. It helped a child, and I received a discount on even more awesome tattoo work from the artists at Lowbrow Tattoo. If you can donate, it is a great feeling even if they don’t want a tattoo."
O’Malley said the drive helps more than children. "I feel it helps the teachers too. I say this because most teachers I know would take out of their own pocket to help children that don’t have what they need," he said.
Sara McElroy said the value of the offer in their shop would depend on the tattoo a customer wants.
"A $100 tattoo can change in size based on the complexity of work," she said. "Black and grey would be less expensive than color. … I would consider it the size of the palm of a hand."
She said location, size and color options all play a role in tattoo pricing.