Jerry Milburn of Lawrenceburg is a big man with a big heart. Don’t doubt him when he says with a soft certainty that he plans to bring the baseball card count up to 1 million before he is satisfied by the amount of cards he plans to give to kids who need them.
Since August, he has given away more than 76,000 — 29,150 of those to boys at Sunrise Children’s Services Woodlawn Campus at 1151 Perryville Road in Danville.
“What’s really neat about this is, can you imagine? The boys will get together and will start trading them. The cards are a sense of normalcy,” Suttles said.
Milburn, who works in Frankfort for the state water agency, was joined by his wife, Jackie, and their 5-year-old son Evan.
Milburn said when they first started gathering the cards and packaging them up in lots using sandwich bags to give to kids who didn’t have many things, his son could not get his head around the idea that some kids had nothing.
“He’s an only child and only grandchild, too, so he’s pretty spoiled. Doing this has helped him to know that not every kid has everything,” Milburn said.
Milburn has been collecting baseball cards since he was younger than his son, he says. Part of that hobby includes getting cards that collectors call “commons” that are either redundant to a collection or just not that special to the collector.
“Like I collect the Reds, so I’ll keep every one, but some others I don’t care about,” he says.
His personal collection had grown to about 80,000, of which 60,000 he considered “commons.” He took his collection out of a closet last summer and started sorting through them and simply decided to give his unwanted excess to somebody who might want them.
Soon, it became a campaign. He even has a website (http://sharkysworld.com/commons4kids) with photos of cards that are being donated. The site is also a blog of sorts with a narrative of things like how a woman in Boston mailed a box and where the donations go. Besides Sunrise, kids at the Stewart Home in Frankfort and Franklin County Women’s Shelter and other places have cards to carry and trade, thanks to Milburn and his family.
He buys other people’s commons off Craigslist, and a card shop has donated to the cause. He is candid to admit that he keeps about 10 percent of the cards but says not every card that kids get is a common. Inside some bags are rare and collectible cards, even “jersey” cards which have a tiny piece of the featured player’s actual jersey embedded in the card. A few bags contain packs that are unopened and could hide hidden treasure, but Jackie has a word of caution there, “Don’t eat the gum! Some of these are 30 years old.”
Jackie says this is not the first time her husband has collected things to give to area kids in need, “For any birthday or any occasion that anyone might get him anything, he asks them to give him toys instead. He collects them all year and gives them away at Christmas.”