|Do-It... A Toledo Tradition|
It was December 1966, when Jerry Francis and Kenny Myer were sitting in Mancy's Steak House on Sylvania Avenue in Toledo. Ohio. The two entrepreneurs had finished dinner and began brainstorming ideas on how 'self-made men' could help the less fortunate families of Toledo without the help of a major 'agency.'
"We talked about a way to collect money and help the families that fall between the cracks," Kenny Myer said in a 2006 interview. "We wanted to leverage our entrepreneurial skills and turn them into relief for someone who was down on their luck, out of work, or experiencing 'tight' finances during the holidays."
After discussing their ideas, the two men stepped out of Mancy's and noticed a crowd of people in the saloon across the street.
"We originally went in to have a quick after-dinner drink and finish our brainstorming session," Myer remembered. "Once we got inside, we decided to set out a paper grocery bag to see how much we could collect for the less fortunate. The response was heartwarming. We had no idea what we were starting back then but we found out that others felt the same way we did about helping people who were down on their luck during the holidays - our experiment proved that we needed to create a vehicle for collecting donations from those that cared. The bottom line was...we just needed to 'do it'..."
That first "Do-It " Party on Sylvania Avenue raised enough money for Francis and Myer to contact a local priest in Toledo's south end and ask him to provide a list of a few families who were down on their luck.
"We met with the priest and he directed us to some families who could use our help," Myer recalled. "It was a beautiful thing! We bought and delivered groceries and the Do-It Party was born!"
Over time, Francis and Myer recruited friends to expand the team behind the Do-It Party concept. They formed a group of business entrepreneurs called the "Baker's Dozen" to manage the Do-It party and the distribution of relief to those in need.
Members of the Baker's Dozen celebrate another Do-It Party in the 1970s.
"This was a magical time," added Ron Buermele, an original member of the Baker's Dozen since the late 1960's. "Here were thirteen guys who were doing whatever they had to do to manage their own businesses and we got together each December to help those in need. It was the highlight of the year for all of us and it still is today!"
After 1966, the Do-It Party moved from the saloon across the street from Mancy's to several establishments in West Toledo.
"We got together at Arnies, the Willows, Michael K's, the Embers, and Rocky's. It didn't matter what location we chose, our friends and families always showed up to make the Do-It Party a big event," Myer added.
The Do-It Group in the 1990's with their trademark paper bag for collections.
Over the years, the original members of the Baker's Dozen 'morphed' into the "Do-It Group." This dedicated group gets together each December to carry on the tradition that Kenny Myer and Jerry Francis began over 50 years ago. Today, the Do-It Party is held in December on the Thursday leading up to the Saturday before Christmas at the Players Club located at Sylvania Avenue and Monroe in West Toledo. The Do-It Party raises enough money to allow the Do-It Group to help about a dozen families each year.
"It is amazing that something Jerry and I started 40 years ago is still going strong today," Myer said in 2006. "It is a testament to the people of our community and the energy of the entrepreneur."
The Do-It tradition continues. Members of the Do-It Group and their families shopping at Sautters in Sylvania.
Today the Do-It Group is an extended family of men and women—many of them living the Do-It philosophy as second generation sons and daughters of the original Baker's Dozen. In 2016, the Do-It Group received a Ray of Hope Award from Sylvania Family Services. Today's Do-It Group members view the Ray of Hope Award as testimony to the vision, passion and energy of Kenny, Jerry and the Baker's Dozen. We are very proud of our history and look forward to continuing to serve Toledo-area families who have fallen on hard times during the holidays.