Fast Company

Saving Lives in Iraq With Tech Convention Schwag

Have you ever come home from a tech convention with a bag full of schwag and wondered if there was a better use for it? Emerging media consultant Michael Liskin was wondering the same thing when he came up with the idea for the Schwaggin’ Wagon. Liskin thought, “What if we could collect all the leftover schwag from a convention and give it to charity.” This past April, without any formal plan, Liskin and a few friends rented a van, taped a Schwaggin’ Wagon sign to the side, and drove up to the Web. 2.0 expo in San Francisco to collect schwag. From that first outing, the response has been overwhelming.

I caught up with Michael and asked him about where the Schwaggin’ Wagon has gone since then and what the future holds. He told me they’ve been working with a charity called Operation Gratitude which makes care packages for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and they use the schwag in the baskets. If you’re wondering how a care package full of key chains and pen lights is saving lives, it’s because the troops give these trinkets to the children to win their favor. In some cases, the children will tell the soldiers where the booby traps or bombs are set. Clearly this is a better use of convention schwag than what we’ve been doing with it. After all, how many “work out” T-shirts do we really need? Sometimes doing the right thing is the most buzzworthy thing of all.

Click below to listen to the entire interview with Michael Liskin.

Click here to find out how to help the Schwaggin’ Wagon.

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2 Comments

  • Michael Liskin

    It was an honor to work with such an amazing team: David Preciado, Marjorie Kase, Andy Sternberg, Daniel Hartman, and Kyra Reed. Their dedication and passion made this project what it is.

  • Carel Two-Eagle

    An interesting concept. Since I avoid conventions like the plague, it doesn't reach me like it would some, but it's interesting just the same.