When Edwin Pieroelie sent an e-mail to friends and family asking them to support Pies in the Face, which would involve them throwing pies at him and giving money to charity, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.
As soon as he hit the send button, the replies started inundating his inbox. People were more than willing to pay Rp 50,000 a pop to toss the desserts in his face. At first, friends were pre-ordering a pie or two, then a few friends said to put them down for five pies, then seven pies, another friend wanted 10 pies. In the end Edwin took 67 pies.
But it was worth it. Edwin and nine other volunteers who took pies in the face outside Pizza e Birra at eX Plaza Indonesia on Saturday raised almost Rp 21 million ($2,200) for Sahabat Anak (Friends of Children) and Taman Bacaan Pelangi (Rainbow Reading Garden). In two hours, more than 200 pies went flying.
“I think throwing a whipped cream pie in somebody’s face is universally funny and this event was a fun and exciting way to bring attention and much-needed money to help needy children improve access to critical educational tools, which is a very serious, worthy, and important issue here in Indonesia,” Edwin said.
It wasn’t only Edwin and his fellow pie-takers who volunteered their time for the event, which was sponsored by Drive Books, Not Cars. Other volunteers played cashier, made the pies, hand-whipped the cream and sold used English-language novels on the sidelines.
The event was organized by Count Me In, the corporate social responsibility unit of BeritaSatu, of which the Jakarta Globe is a part.
In true DBNC fashion, Pies in the Face was chaos at its finest.
“For the team that put together Pies in the Face there is no gray area,” said Zack Petersen, who works for BeritaSatu. He sat next to fellow founder of the initiative Scott Hanna to take the first round of pies. “For Drive Books, Not Cars, everything is black and white,” Petersen said. “We come up with what we pretend to think is a good idea and we figure out how to make it happen. We’re never married to the plan. Plenty of people are out there planning things. They have that covered.
“We make things happen. Our passion always far outweighs our plans. It’s always going to be controlled chaos. All the Drive Books, Not Cars volunteers know and appreciate that. That’s why they come back and volunteer time and time again.”
Putri Minangsari, a freelance travel writer, has been a volunteer with DBNC since the program’s inception last year.
“I used to always wonder how to put old books at home to good use, and DBNC’s idea to collect the books and sell them to raise funds for Indonesian children in need has never been done before. It’s brilliant and it works,” Putri said.
“That’s why I’m always very happy to support every event DBNC is doing, which is always great fun too — the way fundraising is supposed to be.”
Not only was Putri the first person to throw a pie, she was also a good enough sport to sit down alongside Alfred Nakatsuma, the environment director for USAID in Indonesia, and take a few pies herself. Other volunteers included Dive Mag Indo’s Riyanni Djangkaru, photographer Muljadi Pinneng, pro surfer Gemala Hanafiah, DBNC co-founder Ima Abdulrahim and actress Poppy Sovia.
In less than a year DBNC has collected more than 16,000 books and raised nearly $13,000 for Sahabat Anak and Taman Bacaan Pelangi. On Saturday, just like in every DBNC event, the money was handed over directly to the two organizations.
Sahabat Anak will put its share of the funds toward scholarships for street kids and operational costs. Taman Bacaan Pelangi will use it to establish new mobile libraries for children.
Maya Martini is a part of the Count Me In team.