Help the homeless during event at Tapa La Luna in DeKalb


DeKALB – Snow has fallen. The season has turned. As you go through your wardrobe or your kid’s closet finding clothing that no long fits, you could just donate it, the way you’ve always done.

Or you could wear it one last time, work a catwalk and honor one of DeKalb’s most beloved, albeit late, entrepreneurs.

Rob Deshazer, the co-owner of Tapa La Luna who died of a heart attack in early October, had been working with fellow #ProudlyDeKalb resident Amy Potempa on a donation event with some sass, Shirt Off Your Back. It’s still going to happen – at 3 p.m. Nov. 18 at Tapa, 226 E. Lincoln Highway – although now it’s gained a purpose as a tribute to Deshazer.

“You know Rob’s heart,” Potempa said. “He was an amazing man and did so much for our community.”

People should bring in a bag of donations – clothing, sleeping bags, tents, school supplies – anything homeless families may be able to use. For people who want to donate food, bring pop-top cans or foods that don’t require anything to open them.

For those brave enough – fabulous enough – there will be a runway competition, with a massive gift basket on the line for the winner.

To sashay the runway, participants must wear the clothes they are planning to donate (with a base layer for once all those clothes are stripped off), and work it, girl or guy.

“We want them to walk the catwalk, do a little strut and then take off their donation,” Potempa said. “Obviously, you have to wear your clothing underneath.”

The gift basket will feature anything from gift cards from restaurants and the movie theater to a package from Great Clips.

Fatty’s Bar and Grille and Pizza Pro’s will provide food during the event, and there will be a cash bar, Potempa said.

So, how about school supplies? Potempa said conversations with regional superintendents have been illuminating as to how much homelessness affects local students.

In addition to providing school supplies to local children, cash donations will go toward Payless gift cards for children.

Potempa said she’s regularly organized such a drive, just not on such a grand level, and that she’s worked with Hope Haven, local schools and the Regional Office of Education to make sure all the donations get where they’re most needed.

Raffle tickets will be sold for $2 apiece or $10 for six for a slew of prizes donated by local businesses, ranging from a $300 gift certificate at DeKalb Tattoo to passes to the Kishwaukee Family YMCA – which also donated several boxes of brand-new school supplies, Potempa said.

After the runway clears, attendees can settle in for a viewing of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” a Will Smith film about a single father who overcomes homelessness.

“It’s kind of that full-circle movie when it comes to homelessness,” Potempa said. “Not everybody who’s homeless chooses to be homeless.”

*Story provided by the Daily Chronicle