Tats for Tots

Berkley Philipp, 5, applies a temporary tattoo to Jocelyn Miller's arm after Sunday's worship service at First United Methodist Church in Baraboo.

Baraboo’s newest philanthropist stands about 3½ feet tall.

Berkley Philipp has launched Tats for Tots, a charitable enterprise benefiting children’s hospitals. The 5-year-old charges $2 for temporary tattoos and gives half the money away.

“He’s quite the little entrepreneur,” said his mother, Kristen Philipp. “He’s a great salesman.”

Tats for Tots got started when the boy saw a commercial for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He was moved, and felt spurred to action.

“I just can’t get it out of my head,” he said.

With help from his mother and father, Bryan Philipp, the kindergartner brainstormed for ways he could help. They revisited an idea Berkley had hatched months earlier about setting up a temporary tattoo shop inside his mother’s downtown Baraboo boutique. The family figured he could charge $2 per tattoo, putting half toward children’s hospitals, one quarter into a savings account and the remaining quarter toward supplies.

“I wanted to nurture that compassionate part of him that was reaching out,” Kristen said.

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Every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. he does business inside Seek Boutique, his mother’s resale and handcrafts shop. “It’s all him,” she said. “He’s schmoozing, telling jokes.”

He started Oct. 13 and drew a crowd thanks to social media marketing. He made $100 for St. Jude. Berkley has continued selling tattoos each Saturday, and on Sunday did business at First United Methodist Church after being highlighted in the Rev. Marianne Cotter’s sermon. Parishioners lined up for tattoos after the worship service, raising $100 for American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, the charity Berkley is supporting through December.

“Painless tattoos to help kids in pain,” Cotter told the congregation. “Why would a 5-year-old take time for this kind of project? For the same reason any of us would choose to be generous. Because God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. And we are made in the image of God. And when we love God and our neighbors, we can’t help but find ways to be generous.”

In the future, Berkley may put proceeds toward the March of Dimes or local charities. He’d also like to personally visit American Family Children’s Hospital and give patients tattoos.

The temporary tattoos won’t last forever, but they’re designed for good. Berkley felt moved to help the sick children he saw on television because he recognized his family – home to twin toddlers — is fortunate to have healthy kids. “Leave it to a 5-year-old to teach you how to take action,” Kristen said.

“In 20 minutes, those $2 and $5 donations added up to $100 on Sunday,” Kristen said. “If everyone can do a little, it adds up to a lot.”

Follow Ben Bromley on Twitter @ben_bromley

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