So here’s my giant update: I made it almost 10 hours before running out of money and I was so happy to be able to help so many people. Even more wonderful was how often I’d go to fill a list and find it was already filled. Thank you. Thank you on behalf of the hundreds and hundreds of kids who will have a present to open this year because of you.
Usually we make it to day two or three before it starts to get frustrating and you start to see people asking for crazy amounts of things but this year things got crazy a little quicker. I tried to delete lists where people asked for more than the limits but so I’m exhausted so right now I’m going to just put a big BUYER BEWARE sign out and say that there are probably a lot of wonderful people in the comments who still need help and are asking for a children’s book or a doll and if you can find those people you should help them. But be careful. Click on the filters to see what’s already been bought. Ignore the lists that are insanely long. Or just skip the lists and donate to Project Night Night. Or Toys for Tots. Or buy toys yourself and drop then off at your local shelter or domestic abuse center.
I’m feeling a little cynical right now but I’m going to shake that off because I am lucky to be able to help every child I helped. I’m lucky to not have to worry this year, although I know each year is precarious and fragile. I’m lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people who care and I’m lucky to not be in such a desperate spot that I make questionable decisions.
So tonight I’m going to shake off the frustration and instead say, “thank you.” Thank you to everyone who helped, who asked for help, who felt a stir in their heart. I am so lucky.
And if you happen to have gotten much more than your share of presents, don’t feel guilty. I don’t want that. Those presents are yours to do with as you choose. And if you happen to have asked for far more than you should have, perhaps consider giving those extra presents to a shelter. Bundle your kids up and take them with you. Feel good about giving. Teach your kids how great it feels. Because it does. I promise.
TODAY IS THE NINTH ANNUAL JAMES GARFIELD XMAS MIRACLE, Y’ALL.
Nine years of giving toys to kids who might not otherwise get presents. That’s insane. Almost as insane as the fact that this all began with a giant dead boar named James Garfield.
The backstory: Nine years ago I bought a very jolly but kinda f-ed up boar head (named James Garfield) and Victor thought I was crazy so I sold some homemade Xmas cards to make up the $90 I paid for him but I made so much I decided to give the money back to parents struggling to buy a toy for their kid.
It went quickly but as soon as I ran out of cash a ton of other people stepped up and asked if they could send toys to strangers and it grew into a weird but lovely tradition.
Each year I think will be the last year but each year people who were helped in the past ask if we’ll do it again so they can give back. For those who like something easier you can give to Project Night Night, a brilliant organization that provides a book, stuffed animal and security blanket to kids experiencing homelessness, and also to Heifer because it’s nice to be able to donate the ass end of a water buffalo on the behalf of relatives that you don’t really like.
The JGXM is one of my favorite things ever but it only works if people follow the rules and this year they’re going to be a little stricter so that we can make sure to help as many people as possible. PLEASE read all the rules and directions because if you don’t I may have to delete your post and that would suck for everyone.
- The JGXM is for all children (under age 18) so if you are a parent and you’re struggling this year and don’t know how you’re going to buy you kid a present you can make and submit one wishlist with presents for your kids. The limit is $35 per kid so please don’t ask for more than that because otherwise we can’t help as many children.
- The only exception to the $35 limit is if you have a child that really needs a new coat. Then you can add that as well.
- Do not delete your list after it’s been filled and don’t delete anything that’s been bought. It messes up the process.
- On Friday after lots of the lists have been filled you can come back and add more things to your list if you still need food/pajamas/etc.
- I’m going to go through the details of setting up a list but here are the two things that you really need to catch so I’ll say them twice. Only add things that are “PRIME”. Not only will this make sure you get your toy before Xmas but also most non-Prime sellers won’t ship to wishlist addresses. And you have to set up a brand new wishlist for this which means you MUST go in and assign a shipping address specifically to this new list or it won’t work. Every year hundreds of people forget to do this and it’s so frustrating for them and for the people who can’t help them.
Okay, let’s get started!
If you’re in need here is what you need to do. Please follow each step:
1.Create a list. (On Amazon, when you’re logged in you should see “Accounts & Lists”. Click that and choose “Create a List.”
3. Go shopping. Pick the thing ($35 limit) you want for each child and click on the “Add to List” dropdown button to add it to your list. Please don’t make a separate list for each child. Just make one list for all of them. Please click here to see an example of what it should look like when it’s done.
4. After your list is complete click on “add comment, quantity & priority” to add a comment about which things are for which kids and what age they are. (You can just use their initials if you want.)
5. This is the part people screw up the most. YOU MUST assign a shipping address to your wishlist. It’s kept private so all we see is the name of your city when we send you stuff. See how it says “None” in the shipping address box below? Don’t do that. Click on it and add your address. Delete the “Don’t Spoil my surprises” check box. Makes sure NONE of the check boxes on the bottom are checked before you save changes. This is so important.
6. Go to “Manage lists” and check again. Does it show your shipping address? Are all of the boxes unchecked? Awesome. Save changes. Copy the page address and come back here to the comments.
7. Your comment should state how many kids you have, their ages, and THE CITY YOUR PRESENTS ARE GOING TO. This is important because if you’re from Canada, for example, I can’t buy for you without paying extra for shipping but there will be people from Canada looking for other Canadians to help and it makes it easier to match up. It’s also necessary because if your city doesn’t match what the gift registry says at checkout we can tell there’s a mistake and not send your gifts to the wrong person. (It happens.)
8. Do not feel bad about asking for help. I suspect all of us (including myself) have been in tough economic situations before and for most of us this is such a wonderful gift to be able to give. In fact, many of the people who come here to donate received help in the past. One day you will pay it forward.
9. One out of 1,000 people will try to game the system here. Please don’t be that person. There’s a limited amount of money so please don’t take away from other children.
10. Be happy and accept my thanks for letting us make this happen.
If you want to donate:
- Find a wishlist. Buy what you want. Proceed to checkout. A page will ask you to choose a shipping address and it’ll probably default to your address so make sure you change it to their address. Usually it’s the first address under “Other addresses” and it’ll say something like “_________’s gift registry address”. On the next page it’ll give you the city it’s being shipped to so you can make sure you have the right address that matches the comment. If they don’t match or you aren’t given an address then they probably made a mistake. Delete everything in your cart and try another list.
- Very rarely someone will ask for more than the limits. If that happens I’ll try to delete their post but just be aware that there’s a lot of trust needed to do this so no worries if it’s not for you. I try to delete anyone that I can tell is gaming the system but I also try to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when young children are involved. If you have doubts, skip them.
- Be happy and accept my thanks for letting us make this happen.
If the amount of blind trust on this is a bit much for you then a FANTASTIC alternative is Project Night Night, which I cannot recommend enough. Last week I put my Bloggess Calendar up for sale and already $1,400 has been raised to help them help children. You did that. Thank you.
Another quick thing…the money I spend each year on helping kids come directly from you. From advertisers, from people who buy my books, or use my links. If you are a part of this community, know that today I will be giving out over $5,000 in toys because of you. I am so incredibly lucky to be a part of this community.
Okay…let’s do this.
2nd UPDATE: Day 2.
I love you guys so much. Sorry I got snippy last night. I was a little exhausted and overwhelmed and I always panic at how many people won’t be helped. I think next year I’m going to finally accept all the wonderful offers of help that you guys always give. Something automated perhaps, so that the wish lists can be approved first and we can make sure that people include all the info they need and that people aren’t asking for to little or too much. I know it can be complicated and I’m sorry about that. Thanks so much for being so amazing and patient.
I’m going to see if I can find some more cash and maybe drop some more gifts late this afternoon. Love!