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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Potato Salad Fundraising Success Inspires Lawyer to Start Kickstarter to Help Homeless

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Thomas Harvey has an idea for Kickstarter that's not potato salad. - ERIC FOGLEMAN
  • Eric Fogleman
  • Thomas Harvey has an idea for Kickstarter that's not potato salad.

If one guy in Ohio can raise $70,000 in a week for potato salad, then surely a St. Louis non-profit can raise $15,000 in a month to help the homeless, right?

That's what Thomas Harvey, founder of Arch City Defenders, is hoping.

After Harvey saw the Kickstarter campaign for potato salad that went uber-viral this week, he bought a tub of Schnucks potato salad and launched a Kickstarter of his own.

See also: ArchCity Defenders: Meet the legal superheroes fighting for St. Louis' downtrodden

No, Harvey isn't raising money to mix mayo with tuberous starches. He wants $15,000 to shoot and edit a series of videos giving the homeless people living in St. Louis a platform to share their own stories.

"So many people think folks are homeless because those people made 'bad choices,'" Harvey says. "Everyday things drive people into homelessness. We are not able to hear their stories very often."

Harvey says he's been kicking around the idea for a video series for a while now and even asked filmographer Ben Kaplan to shoot the footage. He wants to use the videos to give homeless people a platform to be heard and to share their stories about getting caught in complicated legal ensnarements.

"But we haven't had the funding to do anything like that," Harvey tells RFT. Then Harvey stumbled upon the potato salad campaign.

"I couldn't believe it," he says. "I thought, what would people do if they could back something that could help people?"

Harvey bought some potato salad of his own, sat at his desk and made his pitch in a quickie, iPhone video.

"I thought it would be kind of funny, tongue in cheek," he says. "If it works and ends up raising the money, that would be fantastic. It would be a huge boost to the folks we represent."

Harvey says the homeless men and women he helps often care just as much about being heard as they do about getting off the streets.

"We've just come to see it is at least as important that our clients be able to tell their stories and that people be able to hear the real life impact of the legal system on people who are trying to make a change in their lives and get through on a day-to-day basis," he says.

Want to donate? Here's Harvey's Kickstarter: "It's Not Potato Salad, It's A Film About Ending Homelessness."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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