We might be seeing a total lack of tattoos during the COVID-19 pandemic, but pride in the artist community is at an all time high. Tattooers and piercers are handing over their hard-earned medical supplies to healthcare workers, hundreds of shops voluntarily closed their doors at the onset of the pandemic to reduce the spread of the virus, and some artists saw people going hungry in their community and set out to do something about it.
Derek Bunkley of Second Skin Tattoo in Kingsland, Georgia is one of them.
It started with a birthday wish that he posted on his Facebook, March 27th:
“Hey everyone.. this is Derek..so tomorrow is my birthday! I promise this will be the weirdest birthday I’ve ever had. We are at a crazy time in the world. I typically would go buy something I always wanted for my birthday or go out with friends. My liver is grateful that isn’t happening. So instead I took that money and got 8 .. 50 dollar gift cards from Winn Dixie. They are for our people who need it.
The post continued: "I know there are a lot of people who are out of work right now. We live in a small community and it is our responsibility to make sure that each other is ok. It is our job to band together in a time like this and show what we are made of. I ask others who are in a position to help to help. Together we can make a difference. Anyone that wanted to get me a birthday present. This is what I would like to have for it please..”
He would spend his birthday parked in the front of his closed shop, handing out $50 Winn Dixie Gift Cards to anyone that needed them until he had no more to give. His post led to an online fundraiser that received $1,826 in donations from 38 people seeking to get food to those in need. Others delivered cash donations directly to him. He had called on his community to stand up and do something for others, and this would only be the beginning of their response.
Bunkley went on to hand out over $3,500 in gift cards over the next several days. His drive to feed the hungry, especially children, inspired Winn Dixie to join in his efforts. The grocer gifted 200lbs of pork butts to Bunkley to have cooked and given out to several families. He was offered the kitchens of two local restaurants to assist, with one of them even including side dishes to go along with the pork. These meals would far exceed his goal of feeding 27 families for a week: it would be starting point for something greater.
On April 3rd, Bunkley announced the Save Our Butts Fundraiser. The purpose of the fundraiser was simple: raise money to continue to provide cooked meals to members of the community that needed them. With the modest goal of $3,000 and the support of community members, churches, and local businesses, Bunkley was ready to pour his time, heart, and soul into taking care of those around him, and it only motivated those around him to do the same.
Today, the Save Our Butts Fundraiser has more than quadrupled its goal at $12,555 from 196 donors online, and has provided nearly two tons of smoked pork to the people of Camden County, Georgia.
In a Facebook Post on April 12th, he wrote:
“Today we served over 1100 meals in an hour and a half..
..I think the most touching story of the day was a family of four that showed up. A mom and dad and two children. When asked how many meals they need they said 2. They asked if they needed 4 but then they said they needed 2 again. They said they would figure out for themselves how to get food and they only wanted food for their children. So if people sit around and they wonder why what I’m doing is so important to me. That’s why. Because it is sacrifices like that and people caring about their kids first. And trying their hardest to do their very best for their children. That makes America great and will make this country OK if we all work together.
I want to tell everybody I love them. Look out for your family look out for your friends look out for your neighbors.”
Thank you for being one of the many reminders of why we’re so proud to be a part of the tattoo community, Mr. Bunkley. We celebrate you and your love for others, and have no doubt that your city will remember what you’ve done, and your books will be full once these hard times have passed.
Are you or your shop organizing fundraisers or donations for your community? Reach out and let us know. You deserve the recognition, and your story may motivate others to do the same, just as Derek’s has.