Commonwealth Journal

June 5, 2013

Somerset’s superhero with a heart

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

Not everyone can fly or leap tall buildings in a single bound. But everyone can make a difference in the world.
That’s the idea behind the “Superhero Initiative,” the brainchild of local personality John Alexan-der. A City of Somerset Safety Officer and well-known movie buff, Alex-ander was inspired by the new Superman film, “Man of Steel,” to take action for youth suffering from the recent weather devastation in Oklahoma.
Alexander is collecting fun items for children — specifically including art supplies, but also a little superhero wear — for a non-profit organization called Art Feeds, a mobile arts center which focuses on creative development and using artistic expression to encourage the healing process.
“Art Feeds is based out of Joplin, Mo., and conducts mobile programs within schools and after school programs on a consistent basis with elementary students who have undergone trauma and overcome obstacles in Joplin,” reads the description at the organization’s parent website, 
Following the tornado outbreak in Oklahoma that caused massive destruction and numerous deaths in Moore and again near El Reno, Art Feeds plans to take art supplies and fabric to make capes for the children in that area — the kind of capes their favorite superhero characters might wear — Superman, Batman, Thor and the like.
“The idea is that FEMA and other organizations take care of their basic needs, but this will help them with the psychological ramifications of surviving a natural disaster through art and creativity,” said Alexander, “and the simple hope of a cape, to let them feel like they have some control and power back in their lives.”
Alexander, a lifelong fan of comic book heroes himself, was inspired by a quote from the trailer of the upcoming “Man of Steel” reboot of the Superman franchise, due to be released nationwide on June 14. The quote, spoken by the father of the child that would become Superman here on earth, struck a chord by Alexander, who found himself disturbed like most Americans by the death and destruction that’s made headlines across the country seemingly every day for the last year or so.
“Jor-El says (in the movie), ‘You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders,’” said Alexander.
The list of items being requested includes:
• 24-pack crayons
• 10-12 pack colored pencils
• 10-12 pack washable markers
• eight color watercolor palette
• pencils
• black and blue pens
• erasers
• a sketchbook
• a super hero cape — cheap, colorful fabric and ribbon 2-3 inches in width.
The items can be collected at Somerset Cinemas 8, where there will be a drop-off location available. Alexander will be there on Friday for that evening’s movie showings and can take the items personally.
Alexander hopes to have the items sent off by Monday or Tuesday of next week.
 The address they will be sent to is:
Art Feeds c/o
417 E. 7th Street
Joplin, Mo., 64801
For Alexander, it’s a way of fighting back against the darkness in the world, seen in school shootings and other acts of violence, by allowing everyone to take their turn as an honest-to-goodness hero.