Did you know it’s December? Because it is. And I’m freaking out because where did this year go and what am I doing now that book tour is finally over? Answer: Feeling a little lost. Which is the perfect reason to do something awesome and also why we are going to do the 6TH ANNUAL JAMES GARFIELD MIRACLE.
What is the James Garfield Miracle? It’s a weird thing we’ve done here each year in an effort to get a ferociously jolly taxidermied boar’s head (named James Garfield) recognized as an actual saint. Every year I say it’ll probably be the last and every year the people who were helped the previous year email me to ask if they can be donors this year to give back what was given to them and then my heart grows eight sizes and doesn’t fit in any of my sweaters and I decide to do it again. This year is no exception so I’m blaming you for this, wonderful-people-who-remind-me-that-this-has-become-the-truest-way-get-my-cranky-ass-into-the-holiday-spirit.
James Garfield and I love you.
So this is how we do it. If you want to help those who are struggling you can do it in a number of ways, but these are my favorite. You can donate online to Project Night Night, which is crazy easy. For $25 they provide a homeless child with a bag containing a blanket, book, and stuffed animal. It is awesome. Or you can donate to Heifer, who helps families around the world. Or you can come here and help anyone in the online community who is having a hard time getting toys for their kids for the holidays. It’s awesome to get help but honestly it’s even more awesome to help others, so if you need help with a few things for your kids please ask because we have all been there, y’all. Here’s how it works:
If you need help: Go to Amazon and create a new wish list. Name it whatever you want. Make it “public”. Go to “view details” and it’ll let you adjust list settings. This is where you have to add a shipping address for that list or else no one can send you anything. It’s also where you can add details on the ages, gender and number of kids need a special santa this year. Find the stuff you want and then add it to your wish list. Here’s my sample list so you can see what it looks like. Put a link to your wish list in the comments. No need to use your name or give any personal info but it’s helpful if you just share the ages of the kids. Make sure you pick stuff that is in stock and it helps if it’s listed as eligible for Prime because shipping is free for a lot of us on Prime stuff. Good examples of what to put on the list: arts & crafts, books, stuffed animals, warm coats, mittens. Bad stuff to put on the list: video cameras, live tigers, bags of lice. I have to approve the comments so if yours doesn’t show up for a bit that’s just because I’m probably busy eating or sleeping. It’ll show up eventually. (Also, if you aren’t in America please add that in your comment so that donors in your country can find you.)
If you want to help: Go to the comment section and click on a wish list. Buy stuff on the list. When it asks for the shipping address just choose the person’s name. It’ll go to that person. Easy as pie. (MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE THE PERSONS ADDRESS OR IT MAY DEFAULT TO YOUR ADDRESS. If they don’t have an address it means they haven’t added one yet and need to go in and add it.) I have a few things built-in to make sure people aren’t gaming the system, but honestly people don’t really want to game the system over children’s scarves and hot wheels so it’s not much of a worry. It is the best present ever because it is literally a kindness to a stranger and for a lot of us it’s like going back in time and buying things for ourselves when we were poor kids or struggling parents. If you want to leave a comment for the person you bought for telling them what you sent and when it’ll be delivered that’s always lovely but not a requirement.
My mind is still mushy from 3 months of book tour so I’m probably missing something important here. Oh…hang on…I remembered…
Thank you for sharing with others. Thank you for allowing others to share with you. (The second one is the hardest so double thanks for that.) And thank you for all of your support this year. It’s because of your tremendous support this year (for my blog and book) that’s given me the opportunity to be a donor again this year, so even if you can’t help someone else this year know that if you stopped by the blog, or recommended Furiously Happy, or just left a kind word that helped me through a sometimes tough year you are a part of this small miracle. By the way, I don’t keep great tabs on this stuff and it’s done entirely without sponsors but in the past 5 years we’ve given over a quarter of a million dollars to help children around the world and that’s pretty damn incredible.
As a special thank you to you I just sent Project Night Night packages for 40 children, and donated a live llama and some bees in your honor. (The llama and bees are for struggling families through Heifer International, not for homeless kids. Live bees would be a terrible present for kids. I’m not sure why I’m having to clarify this.)
Comments will stay open until things slow down, or until we all run out of money. I’ve got several thousand dollars to give that comes directly from the support that you’ve given me this year so I’ll be helping out as long as the money lasts. I’ll also be randomly picking people to send signed audiobooks to because I just got a big box of them and I hate the sound of my voice, so if you get an email from me, that’s why. Forgive the typos. I’m still not totally recovered from travel.
UPDATED – DAY 2: It has been a very long and very amazing two days. I’ve seen hundreds of families so happy to be helped, and hundreds of others even happier to be able to help. I’ve gone to buy special requests and found that they were already bought by others who beat me to it. I’ve seen people hurting, and others reach out to remind them how important they are.
I cried a little from joy and also a little from darkness, and then I took a deep breath and said, “That was good.” And it was.
Comments will still be left open and there will be more people who need help and more who will offer. And it never stops, which is something that I find both wonderfully exhilarating and terribly draining and a little symbolic of everything that makes up the world. Thank you for reminding me of the kindness of people. Thank you for letting me see into the background of these small miracles, because the stories you read here are amazing, but the stories I see behind the scenes are even more moving. I don’t know how much was donated to Project Night Night or Heifer yet but I checked the purchases on the first page of comments (before my head got melty from too much math) and I counted $30,000 in donations from strangers to send small comforts to children around the world. I don’t have the energy to add up all the other pages still filled with people giving out help but I know that a lot of people were given the gift of a happy holiday and a lot of people were given the gift of buying presents for a family they got to adopt. And it was amazing.
And now I’ll slip quietly back into the shadows where I feel much more comfortable. Yay for comfort. Yay for miracles. Yay for the fact that all the Doctor Who Christmas specials are streaming on Hulu this week. We win, you guys. And that’s how we take back a little bit of the light. Thanks for letting me see it.
James Garfield for President, y’all.
UPDATED: DAY 3
Hello. It’s me. It’s the end of day 3 and this is the day when things start to get overwhelming. This is when the excited and relieved comments start to come in from people receiving the small things they asked for. It’s when strange little miracles happen. It’s also when things get confusing and you realize that, just as in life, some get more than others and some slip through the cracks. It’s when I finish up my own final purchases ($7k in tiny increments going to children around the world – which comes directly from your support of me through the year so it is a present from you technically). It’s when I tend to slip away a bit because it’s also when a few people will try to mess with the system, and it only takes one or two to make you disheartened in spite of the thousands of others that are helped. I’ve had a few people contact me with concerns that a person might not be trustworthy or that someone is exaggerating or even pretending to be two people to get more gifts, and that will happen. This is the world, after all, and none of us are perfect. But I remind myself of several things. 1) It would be a terrible thing to be so desperate as to take something that would have gone to a child on Christmas or Hanukkah, and if that person is so desperate then they need our care and pity, and forgiving them and helping them is a true act of holiday spirit and generosity. (And that they’ll probably get stabbed with a fork at some time because karma does that.) 2) That regardless of the honesty of the person asking for help, most of the requests are for children’s toys and children deserve to have presents even when the people who love them go about it in not-entirely honest ways. 3) That people giving are kind, but they are also smart, and mostly the gifts given are toys and children’s books and necessities of life that will help a family in need, because most people helping can tell by the list who legitimately needs a small helping hand to make a child smile.
As always, amazing things happened here and so many people were helped in lovely ways and they helped others with their stories. You all inspired me and I thank you so much for this.
I’m going to step out now and stop doing so many checks on people, so that means there is a giant “BUYER BEWARE” after this if you decide you want to look in the comments and help. It’s slowing down and most people have been helped and I’d probably close comments but I sort of like them open because it’s so nice to see people leave comments of happiness as packages arrive. If I were you and I just found this post and I was looking to help I’d stick with helping people who want a single small toy or children’s book, but it is totally up to you and I know there are a lot of amazing people who are in need of help and a lot of amazing people who specifically are looking to support people who remind them of people they’ve lost. And that’s lovely and the way it should be. Most people are wonderful and in need of help or in need of someone to help and that’s a very happy coincidence. Also, Project Night Night is a PERFECT way to help a child in desperate need and I cannot recommend it enough.
I think next year if we do this again maybe we’ll just stick with books? No one can say no to a good book and anyone who’d pretend to be two people to get more books for their kid is automatically forgiven in my mind because BOOKS. Remind me of that next year when December rolls around?
Love, love and more love.
PS. If you want to see what the person asking for help has already been sent you can just add this to the end of their wish list. /ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?reveal=purchased
PPS. Thank you. For everything. Going to pass out now.
UPDATED: DAY FOUR
And on the fourth day there was clarity. And rest. And possibly tuberculosis. Long story. But to make it short, happy comments from people receiving presents are coming in, and I’m getting sweet pictures of adorable smiling children who are already holding wrapped gifts (which I’m not sharing here because privacy is good thing) and it’s made me feel (for lack of a better term) furiously happy. This is winding to a close but remember that Project Night Night goes all year long helping children. Thank you for being awesome and thank you for the love you’ve shared with others. At last count over $60k was given to help children have a good holiday and I’m sure I’m underestimating that because I stopped counting halfway through after math gave me a headache. And now I’m off to get tested for TB. Again. Long story. I wish you all a merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and Good Kwanzaa and Jolly Flying Spaghetti Monster Day or whatever else you might celebrate. High-five, you bad-asses.
UPDATED: DAY…what day is this?
Hey guys. Unfortunately a scammer has found us as of this morning. (I lied about not checking anymore. Sorry. I’m devious that way.). I’m not approving their list so it won’t be seen but now that they know how I found them they could avoid that little trap so right now I’m going to stop publishing any more lists. It’s about time to wrap it up anyway. You can still leave comments and thank yous and all that though. And thank you to everyone!
Also, if you have a fake list you should take down anything on your wish list right now. I don’t want to have to share your information and it’s shockingly easy for me to expose you and I’m sure it would be awfully embarrassing to be identified as someone who would lie for such a terrible reason. (Fake list = pretending to be more than one person, a list asking for help for made up people.) There were a few that were iffy before, and some that looked iffy but turned out totally legit, but this was the first that I could definitively prove was a lie so I’m shutting down all further lists as of now.
Sorry to be a downer, guys. Just want to keep this a safe place and I think we’ve mostly done that. Even with the problems that arose this was still worth it for the happy people who were helped.
Also, just as a final housekeeping thing, I’ve gotten a couple of “undeliverable” messages from Amazon because either the shipping address the person gave on their wish list was wrong or the person deleted their info. I can’t trace who the gifts were supposed to go to because Amazon just says “gifting address hidden for privacy”. If that happens then any money refunded to me will go to Project Night Night and any gifts forwarded to me (I’m not sure how Amazon handles that yet) will be given to Toys for Tots so that no matter what someone is helped.
Also, I’m getting some messages that are saying “Couldn’t leave your package as there was no safe place to leave it and will try again tomorrow” which is good in a way because I know last year several people never got their gifts because they had their packages stolen off porches but also not good because you may not know that your mail person is having problems delivering your package. In the past people have left notes to the mailman on the door telling him/her to leave packages in a more hidden location (behind bushes, etc) so that’s an option. Just wanted to let you all know because inevitably a few things don’t arrive, get lost, etc., and that’s just going to happen, but the more we can head off those issues the better. :)
UPDATED: DAY…where even am I?
I wasn’t going to update again but I need to because of the email this morning I got from the lovely people at Project Night Night:
“Hugs. Hugs. Hugs. Wanted to give you an update that we have received just over $20,500 since Monday which puts Night Night packages into the arms of 823 children. This is incredible and we are so grateful.”
Me too. I love y’all.