"It was just on my heart that I wanted to do something. I said,
'We've got to replace those computers.' . . . I told Will and then I called West Philly High School," Alston told me yesterday. "I wanted this within 24 hours . . . so they [the students] didn't have any excuses as to why they couldn't compete, why they couldn't perform.
"I said, 'Hello, my name is Charlie Mack. I'm interested in replacing the computers that were stolen.' "
Happy endings don't always come that quickly, though. It took a bit to convince school officials that he was serious.
Next, he needed to contact district personnel who put him in touch with the district's Apple representative to order the replacement equipment.
Meanwhile, the police investigation was continuing. A week after the early-morning heist, police arrested two students, one from West Philly High and the other from University City High, after being tipped off by a man who had purchased one of the stolen computers on Craigslist.
Authorities arranged to buy one as well, which is how they wound up nabbing the two 17-year-old suspects. Authorities have since recovered 30 of the missing computers.
Alston, who organizes the Party 4 Peace celebrity weekends, plans to deliver 30 new computers tomorrow at 1 p.m. under the banner of the Will and Jada Smith Foundation and his own philanthropic organization, Charlie Cares. Smith won't be present since he'll be flying off to join his wife, who is accompanying their daughter, Willow, as she tours with pop star Justin Bieber.
When I called West Philly High, I was directed to the school district, which didn't return my calls. I wanted to hear about the program scheduled for tomorrow. I suspect that while he's there, Alston is going to share a little bit of the inspirational story of his life, which took him from selling drugs to walking the Hollywood red carpet. Jeff and Smith once recorded a song about him called "Charlie Mack (1st Out of the Limo)":
"Everywhere we go, downtown or to a show
We have two necessities, Charlie Mack and our limo
He's feared by suckers yet he's loved by kids
Pay attention and let me tell you who Charlie Mack is
He is our homeboy from around the block
He's regarded through the city as the hip-hop cop . . . "
"I love my life. I love it. I love the fact that I'm going to go there Friday and support these kids," Alston said. "The children are our future. We have to support them."
Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. My blog: www.philly.com/HeyJen.