This the story of the blogger who saved Christmas. At this time of year, a lot of people reach out to those less fortunate than they are and try to make a difference. Whether by volunteering, donating funds, or passing along items they don’t need anymore to someone who can use them, people like to pitch in. Each story, in of itself, is heartwarming. But one of the most amazing giving stories of this year is one that started with the generosity of one blogger and turned into a viral tidal wave of giving.
Jenny Lawson, known as The Bloggess, wrote a post on her blog on December 15 indicating that she wanted to help some families that are struggling for money this year and that don’t know how they will buy their kids anything for Christmas. She said she would e-mail a $30 Amazon gift card to the first twenty people who left a comment explaining why it would make a difference in their lives right now. No real names required. Just an e-mail address and a comment.
She got comments…
- sarawr: “My husband left in June and my son and I are living on food stamps and the $400/month I make freelancing. He hasn’t had a present or a treat from me in almost two years — since I’ve been out of work. It would be so lovely if I could be the parent he likes this year.”
- Niki: “I’m in need. I took over handling the finances from my hubby and he has NO idea how much debt we are really in (due to adoption expenses…but still). Could really use this…”
- Kris: The family I am talking about is a single mom with her daughter, the daughter is 5 and in kindergarten, she used to be a twin. Her twin brother died in a pool drowning, and then my friend, the mom here, got ovarian cancer and had to have her ovaries and uterus removed. Once she started recovering from all this, the cancer came back, and she had to go through chemo. While going through all that, she was married. It was this past summer that her husband left her. So, she has lost alot. Now she lives with friends and they work so hard to put food on the table etc, she is on disability because the cancer keeps coming back, she just had back surgery, they don’t even have furniture to sit on, you see where I’m going, it’s bad.
- Heidi: We could really use the help this year. My husband was killed by a drunk driver in July and since he was the primary income earner things have been very tough. I have twin girls that are 5 years old and this is just the worst time of year to be poor and to be missing the love of your life at the same time. I wish I could just crawl in bed and sleep through Christmas but my girls deserve more. Thank you for all you do Jenny. You are an amazingly beautiful person.
Those are just a few examples of the many, many, many comments she received. Jenny had offered 20 gift cards of $30 each and they ran out fast. But then a wonderful thing happened:
- Brigid: “I think I saw the 21st gift card offered – I can give the 22nd. Please let me know the person’s email address and I will email it to them.”
- Kristen: “I can give a $30 gift card and I would love to! Match me up with someone or let me know what to do. I’m sobbing my eyes out over here reading everyone’s comments, and I just wish I could give more!”
- Kellee: “I would be thrilled to add another three cards to what you are doing here. It’s a wonderful thing.”
And it continued. More and more people jumped in with their stories of need and with their offers of help, including one man who donated $1000 towards the initiative. Jenny set up a spreadsheet and matched donors to people in need.
Jenny wrote a follow-up post on December 17 called UPDATED: My heart grew three sizes and now I have an enlarged heart. WORTH IT. In this post she describes the details of how her offer of help to 20 families went viral and ended up helping so many. The final tally according to her blog post:
Over 900 gift cards were sent out by 683 people who were so thrilled to help. 435 people who needed small Christmas miracles received small donations for medicine, food and 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 683 everyday, normal people (Jewish, Christians, Atheists, Muslims and more) sent out over $39,000 worth of donations to make sure Christmas came.
Thank you, Jenny and thank you to the readers of The Bloggess for showing everyone the power of social media and demonstrating what the Christmas spirit is really about.
Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.
Photo used with permission from Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess.