Kingston natives Leann and Aran Campas hold Tattoos for Life event at The Foundry Tattoo in Bloomsburg to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Kingston native and body piercer, Leann Campas, has planned 15 community outreach benefits in Columbia County since 2009.
For the third year in a row, those looking to get inked for a special cause can attend the annual Tattoos for Life fundraiser on March 12, to help those who suffer from mental illnesses and thoughts of suicide.
From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., The Foundry Tattoo, 330 East 5th St., Bloomsburg will feature several specially designed tattoos for the event ranging in price from $40 to $200. Fifty percent of the money from tattoos and $10 from every piercing benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Prior to moving to Arizona, Campas and her husband, Aran, owned Anatomic Body Arts, now The Foundry, and ran the event out of their shop. After selling their business to friend and colleague, Drew Yeagley, the couple returns yearly for the event.
The trio was motivated to give to AFSP after seeing friends and customers struggle with issues of mental illness and suicide. Tattoo designs change yearly but hearts and semicolons are mainstays, Campas said. The semicolon tattoo is a reminder to a recipient that his or her life, or story, is not over.
“It’s actually chilling when you see groups of people that wait around for hours for their tattoo, and they just all bond,” Campas said. “The reason why they’re there is because they’ve been touched by it, and they’ve had the experience. Everybody comes together and shares stories, and there’s been friendships that have come about from these events.”
One event raised more than $2,000 in just one day.
“The first year we did it, nobody expected the emotional reward at the end, and that’s what we’ve gotten every year,” Campas said. “You end up feeling so good about yourself, because you know you did something great.”
Campas said having simple tattoos designed beforehand makes the event run smoother. But people can come and donate without getting tattooed or pierced. They can request something in more detail and return at a later date.
“If they want a different size or something added or something done differently, they come the day of the event and put down their donation as a deposit and then schedule an appointment,” Campas said.
Those interested in getting a tattoo must bring a valid ID and be 18 or older (or have a legal guardian with them).
Pat Gainey, director of AFSP for Pennsylvania, said Tattoos for Life is a vital event for spreading awareness of mental illness.
“For any cause, you have to do outreach to the public,” Gainey said. “You have to disseminate information, so people can become partners with you in helping to solve issues. When we have events like the tattoo event, we’re reaching a potential demographic we may not have reached before. Not all communities can talk about mental illness and suicide prevention. They don’t have a platform to do it.”
The event offers an opportunity to make a creative statement in support of a cause.
“It is a way for people who identify with our cause to have some expression around it by doing the question mark tattoos or the semicolon,” Gainey said. “It’s really cool.”
People who participate are a mixture of tattoo veterans and first timers but all have a sense of being part of something special,” Campas said.
“It’s a very emotional thing for them,” she said. “They’re doing it for a reason. Most of the time, there’s a little bit of tears involved, not because of the pain of the tattoo, because there’s emotion involved.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter@TLArts
IF YOU GO
What: Tattoos for Life
Where: The Foundry Tattoo, 330 East 5th St., Bloomsburg
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 12
How much: Cost varies on tattoos and piercings; donations accepted