Enterprising kids ply toilet paper arcade game to help local police

On a recent warm Saturday in suburban St. Louis, a pair of brothers stood outside their home flagging down passers-by, selling them the chance to win rolls of toilet paper from an arcade-style claw machine.

It looked a lot like capitalism in the COVID-19 era—at least until you saw the fine print.

And that fine print read: “All money donated to Chesterfield police.”

The boys, ages 6 and 3, belong to American Piping Products Sales Representative James Hofman. The Hofmans live in Chesterfield, not far from our St. Louis corporate headquarters.

Astute observers, the Hofman brothers connected the dots between two unfortunate realities: they knew some folks were having a hard time getting toilet paper, and they knew that their local police force had taken a pay cut to avoid a force reduction.

Their solution? Get toilet paper to people who need it and give the local cops a hand.

That’s where the “Toy Soldier” claw machine comes in.

“We originally bought it as a way to get them to do chores,” James said.

Toys were replaced with rolls toilet paper, and the boys made a sign advertising the bargain: $5 for three tries to snag a roll, with all proceeds directed to the police.

When it was all said and done, the Hofman brothers handed over their tidy sum to the men and women in blue—$400.

“The boys were great in helping with setting up, flagging down cars and explaining why they were doing what they were doing,” James said. “Hopefully, it helps inspire other people to raise money, whether it be for police, first responders, healthcare workers or anyone else suffering right now.”

It’s more than just $400 the Hofman brothers sent. They also sent a message.

When times get tough, people step up.

And these days, a little bit of good news can go a long way.