The past few days have been a whirlwind and I’m exhausted and have given myself hives so please forgive the typos.
A few days ago I put up a post offering $30 gift cards to the first twenty people who didn’t know how they were going to give their kids Christmas gifts this year. They went frighteningly quickly. When I got to the twentieth person I saw that there were still a few more people who needed help and my heart sunk. Then a few comments in one person said “I’ll take care of the 21st person”. Then another person offered a card for the 22nd. Then another. Then it avalanched.
In the past few days that post has gotten over 500 comments and so many heart-breaking requests were from people who need a small hand-up to buy food for Christmas dinner or from people who are planning on telling their children that there is no Santa because otherwise they wouldn’t understand why he didn’t come. You can’t read the comments and not ache a little because so many of us have either been there or see how easy it would be to be in their position one day. But here’s the amazing thing…every time someone would leave a comment asking for help someone else would leave a comment asking to help. And that’s why as of Friday morning, every single person who asked for help here is matched up with at least one person who will be sending them a gift card. In fact, so many people offered to help that we were able to give out multiple gift cards to people who had a greater need. And when things seemed dicey and I was about to call for an end to comments a wonderful man emailed me and told me that he’s so enjoyed the community on this blog that he wanted to donate $1000, no questions asked. So, ten people who were really struggling woke up this morning to $100 in their paypal accounts. Another reader offered $250 to a family in desperate need. A doll-clothes store owner sent sent seven beautiful Madame Alexander/American Girl dolls to wait under the tree for seven little girls who truly needed a single happy surprise in their lives right now. People getting the gift cards are vowing to pay the gift forward next year. Emails are flooding in from people in shock, in tears and so grateful. And the funny thing is that half of those crying, grateful people are the ones who are donating. They’re so happy to have finally felt something warm and true that they’re feeling a Christmas spirit for the first time since they were children.
I know exactly what they mean.
Thank you. Thank you for donating and thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for asking for help so that others can feel like miracle workers. Thank you for kind words and thoughts and for being you. Thank you.
I’m going out of town for the weekend to pick up my mom and bring her here for Christmas but if you’ve asked for help and haven’t received it by Monday then just leave me a comment next week and I’ll see if I can find another donor to help you. And if you still want to help leave a comment too. There are still people trickling in and we may need some angels to swoop in on Monday in case any of the matches flake out.
PS. I just want to point out that my traffic the last two days has been exactly the same as usual. What that means to me is that the people donating and the people receiving are all part of the usual community of people who regularly read and comment here. That. Is. Amazing. And I’m so proud to be part of this community. You guys are the best minions ever.
UPDATE: So many people have gone on their own blogs to offer up their own gift cards to people in need and it’s amazing. Thank you! One of those people is the amazing Maureen Johnson who helped a ton of people herself but still has twenty more people in dire need. If you still want to donate I have their addresses and I can set you up to perform a small Christmas miracle. Just leave a comment. I’ll be here for the next two hours at least if you can donate.
UPDATE AGAIN: A lot of you have asked if you could just paypal me money to give to the people in need. You totally can but I’ll have to pay taxes on that money since it goes into my account so it’s not as ideal as you getting matched with someone and sending them the card directly, but if you’d rather just give money you can paypal me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t spam me or I will stab you.
SATURDAY UPDATE: As of right now (noon Saturday) I have emailed hundreds of donors and over 500 gift cards are scheduled to go out to people who need help. If everything goes as planned (Please, God, let it go as planned) everyone who has asked for help as of this moment will get at least one gift card and many will get several. Some got cash for medicine. Some got money so they could keep the electricity on and buy food for Christmas dinner. Some only asked for help in buying presents for their brothers or sisters so their moms wouldn’t be so worried. Some received help and then got more help than they needed and decided to turn around and become a donor themselves. I wish I could tell you what this has meant to me but there aren’t words for it. The emails and comments coming in from people who got a Christmas miracle are incredible but the ones from people so thankful to be able to help are even more moving. Right now we still have a few more donors available and another 20 are standing by in case someone who asked for a donation hasn’t heard anything from their donor by Monday.
That’s one hell of a Christmas miracle, y’all.
This calls for a theme song.
Thank you for making me believe again.
UPDATE (10am Sunday morning): As of this minute (barring any mistakes) we’ve matched everyone who asked for help with at least one donor and we still have a few donors on standby for emergencies. So far over 600 gift cards have gone out to provide a Christmas miracle for strangers in need. If you wanted to help but haven’t heard from me please leave another comment. I’m sure by Monday we’ll need more to fill in any gaps. Now if you’ll excuse me, my hands are about to fall off.
UPDATE (2pm Sunday): With no marketing, no push, and no fanfare, somehow hundreds of willing donors have come forward to send 650 gift cards to people in need. Many people who wanted to contribute a $30 card came back and told me that instead they gave $50 or $100 or $200. As of right now over $22,000 has been sent out in small electronic chunks all over the world to make Christmas a small bit brighter for a complete stranger. People have contributed in (and have been helped in) America, Canada, England, Germany, Australia, Asia…and they continue to help. Every time we get down to our last donor someone else steps forward. I wish I could share all the emails from people who felt that this gave them the hope to get through the next year and the strength to keep looking for a job or a place to work because they now had faith that people cared. There were even some who admitted later that they were considering suicide until this gave them hope. Some of those people considering suicide? Were the donors. Some felt isolated and depressed in the holiday season and being able to have someone somewhere count on them made them feel connected and less alone. I know just how they feel.
Thank you for letting me be a part of this.
UPDATE: (A few minutes from Monday morning): Wow. Just…wow. In less than an hour it will be Monday morning and so far pretty much everyone who asked for help is going to matched with at least one donor. I still have another hundred emails to mail out before I can go to sleep but it looks like well over 800 gift cards will be sent out if everything goes through as planned. I’ve been running on adrenaline and caffeine for the past 4 days but I can tell I’m about to crash so I’m going to call this as of right now and say that this has been the most successful, unplanned, disorganized celebration of awesomeness that I’ve ever accidentally been in charge of.
If you still want to help then please leave a comment because we’re about nine donors short right now. I wish I could do more and I’m sorry that I can’t but I’m so incredibly proud of the fact that we were able to help hundreds and hundreds of people (both givers and receivers) make Christmas magical. If you were matched with someone as of comment 1033 and you don’t get a response from your donor by 11am Monday morning then leave me a comment. We have a few donors on stand-by to help people who may have fallen through the cracks. With any luck by noon tomorrow we’ll be done and I can finally sleep and shower and actually maintain eye contact with my family for more than five minutes at a time.
Thank you. To the donors and to the recipients and to the people who came to cheer on both. Thank you.
You’ve made all the difference.
Done. It’s Monday night and over 900 gift cards were sent out to people needing help. I’m sure we didn’t get everyone but hundreds and hundreds of people were helped. Some got enough to buy their children new books. Some got money to put food on the table on Christmas. One 9th grader asked if anyone had a used laptop for her disabled mother before coming back and asking to delete the comment since so many other people needed help. That young girl will be surprising her mother with an ipad from one of our amazing, regular readers. One woman emailed to say that because of the support she got they were able to save their house from foreclosure. I wish it could go on forever but I have to stop before I get sick. If you don’t get an email from me matching you with a donor by midnight, please donate to your local food bank. There are still so many people who need help this year just putting food on the table.
Some small miracles happened here in the past five days and I don’t know exactly how I fell into being involved but I’m so glad I did. It may be the lack of sleep but I’m finding it hard really understand what happened here and why it feels like such an important thing to have been a part of. It was just a series of small gifts sent one by one to perfect strangers in need. It doesn’t change the world.
Or maybe it does.
Thank you for changing mine.
PS. Final tallies: Over 900 gift cards were sent out by 689 people who were so thrilled to help. 450 people who needed small Christmas miracles received donations for medicine, food, or presents under the tree for their children. No large corporations got involved. No one only offered to donate if they got something out of it themselves. With no sponsorships, no ulterior motives and with only a simple need to reach out and help a perfect stranger, 689 everyday, normal people (Jewish, Christians, Atheists, Muslims and more) sent out over $40,000 worth of donations to make sure Christmas came.
You did this.