“Free Stamps for Kids” at Jeff Fest encourages young stamp collectors


Given today’s digital age, some children may not be very familiar with stamps, but that does not mean they are uninterested when given the opportunity to browse through thousands of U.S. and international stamps.

“Kids are attracted to images, so they are naturally attracted to stamps,” said Portage Park resident and longtime stamp collector Andrew Oleksiuk. “Kids of all ages are interested in stamps.”

For the past 12 years, Oleksiuk has been sponsoring “Free Stamps for Kids” at community events in an effort to encourage children to start their own stamp collection. For a second consecutive year, Oleksiuk will be bringing his display to the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce’s “Jeff Fest” arts and music festival, which runs the weekend of Aug. 4-6 at Jefferson Memorial Park, 4822 N. Long Ave. The display will be available Sunday afternoon after 2 p.m.

At the display, children are allowed to choose 100 stamps from the 10,000 or so at the display.

The stamps include those showing presidents, kings, queens, flags, bicycles, ships, airplanes, cars, planets, spaceships and come from a variety of countries, including South Africa, Egypt, Netherlands, Germany, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Poland and Mexico. The stamps are donated from philatelic organizations.

“Families come and kids get interested, and the parents say, ‘we still have grandpa’s collection in the attic and maybe we should get it down,’” Oleksiuk said.

The vast array of images on stamps lends itself to historical, topical and geographical themes in one’s collection, Oleksiuk said. One of his collections reflects the history of Ukraine from 1900 to 1945.

“Stamp collecting sort of had its heyday in the 1970s,” said Oleksiuk, who is a member of the Chicago Philatelic Society and secretary of the Illinois Postal History Society. “(Now) kids see less mail in their house, ingoing and outgoing. It is connected with today’s technology.”

While the Internet has reduced the number of letters being sent through the U.S. Mail, it can be useful to collectors, Oleksiuk said. “You can get in touch with other stamp collectors and buy online,” he said. “There are online auctions.”

Free Stamps for Kids to encourage stamp collecting