Joshua Scarver (#DWYD) is known on the site for his work within the indie music scene. However, he also has a lot of stand alone ventures outside of music as well. One of said ventures is his annual toy & book drive with Children’s Hospital and The Milwaukee Child Advocacy Center that takes place around Christmas time. This past holiday season marked the fifth run of the effort. It seems that as the drive has grown over the years, so has the number of sponsors and donations. Which is quite impressive. The Illixer decided to reach out to Joshua to learn a little bit more about the cause and his passion for philanthropy. Take a peek at the brief yet informative Q&A after the break.

The Illixer: What first inspired you to want to do the toy and book drive five years ago?

Joshua Scarver: The first drive was inspired by me hearing about abused children in Milwaukee that were being helped by The Milwaukee Child Advocacy Center. They had ran out of toys to give the children there. So I decided to turn a pajama party into a toy drive as well. That was the beginning of me fusing community involvement/empowerment/charity into everything that I do in life. I was also inspired by my fiance’ to keep doing my part to help the community, without her dedicated effort, I wouldn’t be able to do the work that is needed.

TI: Why did you choose to partner up with Children’s Hospital for your charity endeavor?

JS: I partnered up with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin because they are the parent organization of the services that The Milwaukee Child Advocacy Center provides. I also have had family members and friends in life that have been victims of physical and sexual abuse as children and even adults. I realized that not everyone was as fortunate as me to have a mother who shielded me from such traumatic events. I also feel that our world has an issue with the treatment of children (women as well). As I researched further and found out the statistics of how many children experience abuse in their lives and the lack of advocates for them, I felt compelled to do this and bring others together to help them have at least a few moments of joy in their lives.

TI: What makes your toy and book drive unique from other similar efforts that take place during the holiday season?

JS: The difference is that I am not apart of any organizations. I am not famous. I am not backed by one. I am an individual who brings other organizations/businesses/schools/people from diverse backgrounds together to help the children who are in the most need. I want to prove that one man’s or one woman’s cause or mission can be brought to life with determination and the will to bring value and serve the world. I also notice a severe lack of men who have taken an open stance to help the youth who have been victims of abuse. The majority of the children who receive these toys & books are from the inner city aka low income, below poverty level communities in which I grew up. I personally know how hard it is to even survive, let alone thrive in these environments. As Tupac said, roses can grow from concrete, we just need more love and action instead of hate and criticism in our communities.

TI: How has your drive evolved from when you initially started out?

JS: It has grown from a one event/party to now having over eight physical public locations collecting items for four weeks plus in addition to having six other companies/schools/organizations collecting internally with their staff and students. I have also received donations of items shipped from 10 of the 50 United States!

TI: Why is it important for people to support and donate to efforts like your toy and book drive?

JS: I feel it is important to support people who you can reach out to and talk to directly, like myself instead of giving to the many faceless super organizations who claim to help the community and the people in it. When in fact, if we research, they do little for the people they claim to serve and advocate for. I also believe in helping others, especially the youth. Whether it is with your time or with donating money or items for their well being, their education and their overall sense of well being. The children that are helped by my toy & book drive are dealing with extreme amounts of mental, physical and spiritual stress. I realize it’s not a ‘feel good story’ like the ones we see on the news, so I took it upon myself to bring others together to see what I see and sacrifice their time to help make a difference for these children.

TI: What would you like to see happen with your toy and book drive in the future?

JS: I would like to become a philanthropist before I pass on. I want to be known for providing a platform of education, support, family and inspiration for people, especially children and women to realize their dreams and live the #DoWhatYouDesire life. I want to keep expanding and help as many children as possible with the drive. I am very grateful for all of the people, businesses, and organizations who have helped me collect over 4,000 toys and books in the five years of me doing this holiday toy & book drive. I hope to inspire others, especially younger people in the Hip-Hop generation to take a look at doing their part in organizing their community, fans, and followers to do something for the youth instead of always hustling for themselves. To forget about the latest shoes or clothes, to forget about trying to stunt on people, but to think about their legacy and the lives they can positively affect. I know that is far fetched, but I have hope and PROOF that people can come together for good.

Thank you for your time in interviewing me about something that I feel is important.

**My Two Cents: I admire Joshua Scarver a great deal for his charity work and genuine desire to do good in the community. He is right in saying that we definitely need more people to get involved. Especially those with influential platforms such as music. It warms my heart to see his drive growing every year and to see more people coming together to put a smile on the faces of abused and less fortunate children. It is an honor to be able to feature this interview and I look forward to seeing and supporting Joshua’s progression as he continues to put in work and bring forth positivity. -MinM