2014 Winter Wishes Gift Drive: MetaFilter Cares! November 2, 2014 9:24 AM   Subscribe

It's that fantastic time of the year when MetaFilter comes together to provide gifts for kids! (Spare me the details, just give me the list.)

Just a year ago, MetaFilter provided gifts for 90 children in lower Manhattan and the Bronx as part of the New York Cares Winter Wishes program.

Last year's letter selection was in large part from a preschool reading program, so many, many of the requests were for books. The immense success of the 2013 drive probably had something to do with our love of books! This year's bundle is from an after-school program that provides a variety of services, and the requests are far more kid-typical. Some of the items are things I might have philosophical objections to, but they're what these children wanted enough to specifically ask for above all else. So on the wish list they went.

This year's recipients range in age from 4 to 14 years old. There is significant Asian representation in the group. This program serves children and teens on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn.

Some of the entries have notes, for those who'd like to do a bit of shopping around. Absolutely feel welcome to! The codes like "USAC0000" are for organizational purposes and can be safely ignored. There are items from a few dollars each to a lot of dollars each.

There are also entries for Amazon gift cards, to fill in for unpurchased items or things that may be out of stock at shopping time or to be combined for higher-ticket items. If there's extra, it'll go toward gift wrap and wrapping supplies, and anything left after that will be donated directly to the program.

Amazon wish list items will be shipped to my house. I'd like to get all the packages in by November 21. There'll be a gift-wrapping meet-up at a date and location TBA (watch the comments for the IRL link); we need to get the packages to the program by December 1. My address, phone number, and email address are in my profile, if you have any questions or need to send anything directly.

This is the wish list.

Previous years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008, the bicycle that started it all.
posted by houseofdanie to MetaFilter-Related at 9:24 AM (65 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

Thanks for putting this together. I picked something my own kids are CRAZY about since I know how happy it makes them!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:42 AM on November 2, 2014


I'm glad to see this early this year.... The RC Mustang is on its way!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:09 AM on November 2, 2014


I'm in for a soccer ball and a My Little Pony--thanks so much for doing this.

(Also, I'm pleasantly surprised to see that Mancala seems to be enjoying a resurgence.)
posted by box at 10:20 AM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think a bunch of the kids play some of the requested games, like Mancala and Uno, together in their program. I love that some of the kids wanted to have Mancala over anything else!

It's so fun to watch the items move from "unpurchased" to "purchased." Thank you to everyone who's giving gifts, helping to wrap and transport, or just sending good thoughts from afar.

I still have a few things to add in the coming days, things I have questions about or with questionable handwriting. Speaking of which, does anyone know what a "crystal baby" might be? Two kids with really similar last names asked for it/them and the only thing Google can suggest is an Estee Lauder makeup item. I guess it's possible someone wants a gift for an older relative? I have a phone call in...
posted by houseofdanie at 10:34 AM on November 2, 2014


Thank you for organizing this -- in for a scooter and the Minecraft handbooks, on their way to you shortly!

This gift drive is quite honestly the high point of the holiday season for me, and I'm so grateful to be able to participate this year.
posted by vers at 11:14 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thank you for organizing this, houseofdanie!
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:15 AM on November 2, 2014


You are awesome, houseofdanie! Thanks for organizing this. Drop me a line if you need help with delivery, I can bring my minivan over.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:36 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is so awesome. Shiny pink Nerf gun + dart refill on the way.
posted by skycrashesdown at 12:20 PM on November 2, 2014


Yay, caught it early enough this time that I actually got to pick a fun gift. Thanks for organizing, houseofdanie, I'm so happy we do this every year!
posted by gemmy at 1:29 PM on November 2, 2014


Teresa Weatherspoon's Basketball for Girls? Dibs!
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:48 PM on November 2, 2014


GONNA DO THIS AN ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO SO
posted by The Whelk at 3:06 PM on November 2, 2014


Hatchet and Ponies!
posted by ChuraChura at 4:27 PM on November 2, 2014


Thanks for organizing!
posted by tangaroo at 5:08 PM on November 2, 2014


Spot It! Now there's a kid after my own heart. Purchased, because that game works on so many levels, you can play with it for years.

Seriously though: no text, so you can play with pretty young kids and English Language Learners, plays super-fast, slips into a purse easily, lots of variant ways to play, modifiable as an adult drinking game later in life. What's not to love about this game?
posted by ActionPopulated at 5:13 PM on November 2, 2014


Awww, I got a baby doll and blankets. This is my favorite shopping event all season. Thanks so much to those of you who work behind the scenes to make it happen.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 5:15 PM on November 2, 2014


Yay, bundles of coloring fun on the way!
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 7:04 PM on November 2, 2014


Loot is on the way! Many thanks to the NY MeFites for organizing.
posted by zachlipton at 8:45 PM on November 2, 2014


Yay, this is the best part of the season for me! I will tune in tomorrow when I am home and try to send as much as I can.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:53 PM on November 2, 2014


I didn't even get past the first page of the wish list because I LOVE little Razor scooters. LOVE.
posted by JanetLand at 6:32 AM on November 3, 2014


Yay, Monster High! Ordered and on the way - you should have it by the 11th. Thanks for organizing!
posted by needlegrrl at 7:04 AM on November 3, 2014


One Nerf Elite 2-in-1 Demolisher dispatched.
posted by notyou at 7:13 AM on November 3, 2014


I was boring and practical and got batteries
posted by The Whelk at 7:19 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


So many Christmases in my youth were spent driving with my brother miles and miles to the only place open on Christmas day because nobody thought to get batteries.
posted by JanetLand at 7:21 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I Don't know what this is, but someone's getting one (and I want one too). Thanks for putting this together.
posted by rtimmel at 9:31 AM on November 3, 2014


I fully agree with many others that this is a highlight of the winter season! It's the best thing that happened to me last year. Thank you, thank you, thank you to ThePinkSuperhero for starting this gorgeous tradition in the first place.

TPS, your minivan is going to be a godsend. Last year's bundles were a lot of gift cards and books. The square-footage of this year's haul is going to be much greater. I have no degree of spatial intelligence (I had to give away four lounge chairs I was sure would fit in my apartment in the weeks immediately following my move, for example), but even I can squint at my hatchback and the gift list and nuh-uh it.

The delivery deadline this year is about a week and a half earlier than normal, so I need to get on organizing something for the wrapping meet-up. Will make a post tonite.
posted by houseofdanie at 10:06 AM on November 3, 2014


And I'm so charmed by people's giddiness at specific toys. Their bafflement, too.
posted by houseofdanie at 10:08 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sent! A little practicality, a little childhood memory - love it :)
posted by brilliantine at 10:36 AM on November 3, 2014


Batteries and sharpies and legos and a board game on their way to you! This is such a lovely way to kick off the festive season.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 10:39 AM on November 3, 2014


Just sent some boring stuff like tape, scissors and gift bags, along with batteries and a cool looking bike/skateboard helmet. Grab bag of holiday fun! Thanks for organizing!
posted by msbubbaclees at 12:45 PM on November 3, 2014


I love this! Got a couple of things from me, and an Elsa doll on behalf of my Frozen-obsessed nieces, aged 3 and 5. I'll tell them they sent a wee present to a kid on the other side of the world* who loves Frozen too.

*their geography is about as good as mine, it'll be fine
posted by billiebee at 1:10 PM on November 3, 2014


I just want to throw this out there, but if there's something available on Amazon AND Target, Target is offering free shipping on all orders for an indefinite amount of time, in case you don't want to/can't afford to spend $35 but really hate paying shipping costs.
posted by jabes at 4:52 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


While Fluttershy is MY favorite pony, I have to assume Pinkie Pie is the most universally beloved, so I'll go with that.

Also, for those of you who have Prime, you have time to do No Rush shipping and get $1 back for digital goods.
posted by almostmanda at 6:59 AM on November 4, 2014


A Barbie, a toy dinosaur and a Rainbow Loom set just got shipped off. I am very glad that I'm in a place in my life when I can fulfill wishes for these kids.
posted by Liesl at 8:46 AM on November 4, 2014


I couldn't resist a child on the list whose name is similar to my name here.

One year when my kids were little ( 3, 6, and 9) I was having a really hard time. I'd had a major illness, could not work, and received no child support or help from my family. My youngest was in Head Start and it was housed in a neighborhood church. The director called me into her office one day a week or so before Xmas and asked me if I'd be offended if she gave my name to a committee at this church that wanted to help some of the poorest Head Start families. I agreed, I'm not proud.

A few days before Christmas I got a knock on my door: they brought me a small tree and presents for each child, beautifully wrapped. Then the next day someone else from another church showed up with a few more wrapped presents and a basket of fruit and nuts. Then Christmas Eve I got a call from the Salvation Army asking if I wanted a turkey. I went down there and they gave me a turkey and two bags of groceries. on Christmas I cooked up a feast for us and some neighbors. My kids still remember this, 35 years later.

The presents, by the way, were simple inexpensive things like mittens, hats, crayons, coloring books, but they made a big difference to me and my kids.
posted by mareli at 8:49 AM on November 4, 2014 [16 favorites]


I absolutely loved My Little Pony growing up, so Fluttershy, Rarity and Apple Jack are coming your way, kid.

Thanks for doing this, houseofdanie! <3
posted by kerning at 11:17 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Barbie vacation house and nail polish purchased!
posted by gaspode at 11:59 AM on November 4, 2014


Hurrah! I'm glad I checked MetaTalk today.
posted by donajo at 5:02 PM on November 4, 2014


Games on their way to Danie! Woot!
posted by Sophie1 at 9:35 AM on November 5, 2014


Yay! I had a gift card balance sitting at Amazon that was hard for me to justify using because of shipping costs to Canada. Happy to use it buying toy robots for kids!
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:14 AM on November 5, 2014


As a jewelry hound, I was very happy to see the request for a necklace/earring set. En route to you! Thanks so much for taking this on.
posted by bearwife at 3:40 PM on November 5, 2014


My 7 yr old niece helped me pick something out. She's been super obsessed with Christmas early this year and it was nice to see her be unselfish for a few minutes before returning to her own frantic lust for shiny objects.

Included a tiny gift note from my niece that I hope you can pass on to the recipient.
posted by honestcoyote at 4:27 PM on November 5, 2014


That 2008 post was my introduction to the program. My child's gift request? A bicycle.

Love this program, and thanks for organizing again!
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:34 AM on November 8, 2014


Hey mods, can this be side-barred? It's my favorite MeFi holiday tradition, even higher on the list than Secret Quonsar. I have the impression that less people have participated this year, and now that it's fallen off the front page of MetaTalk, people won't know that the new wishlist is up.
posted by donajo at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay, done; thanks for the reminder!
posted by taz (staff) at 12:16 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just realized that I can have my nephew go through and help me pick out a cool gift, and that will help me figure out what he wants for Winter Gift Holiday. Score!

Anyone have any great ideas for realistic fiction or mythology for a seventh-grade boy?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:20 AM on November 11, 2014


This is somehow the first I'm hearing of this annual event and I'm bummed I missed all of the other years! Such a great idea. You give me all the warm fuzzies, MetaFilter. I was having a cranky morning but doing this made me feel better :)

2 basketballs, 1 football and some athletic socks on the way. I love anything that will get kids active and playing outside together!
posted by geeky at 6:40 AM on November 11, 2014


Gift wrapping meetup is up for discussion here. So sorry for the delay! I had a few unexpected things come up. I also don't have a back bedroom anymore, which is so amazing. Thank you for showering these kids with gifts!
posted by houseofdanie at 10:32 AM on November 11, 2014


And by way of quick catching up:

Taz, thank you for sidebarring!

I'll make every effort to get personal messages included in the gifts. With so many packages and labels and such, sometimes things get separated, but I'll do my best.
posted by houseofdanie at 10:33 AM on November 11, 2014


And here are a few items still on the wish list that have dropped in price since I put them on there. Who doesn't love a sale?

Paw Patrol Playset
(was $34.99, now $29.99)

Nerf Elite 2-in-1 Demolisher (was $39.99, now $29.88)

Air Hogs Vectron Wave (was $19.88, now $15)

Fur Real Friends Walkin' Pup (was $49, now $39.88)
posted by houseofdanie at 10:48 AM on November 11, 2014


Thanks for the sidebar mods, I just saw this! Enjoy your frankly awesome Nerf gun and football hand pads, small children!

(This has made my day so much better, you don't even know.)
posted by kalimac at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2014


Thanks for organizing! I'm very glad to see that this is continuing.
posted by spec80 at 6:26 AM on November 12, 2014


houseofdanie: "I still have a few things to add in the coming days, things I have questions about or with questionable handwriting. Speaking of which, does anyone know what a "crystal baby" might be? Two kids with really similar last names asked for it/them and the only thing Google can suggest is an Estee Lauder makeup item. I guess it's possible someone wants a gift for an older relative? I have a phone call in..."

Is it maybe Crystal Barbie? That's a thing.
posted by kostia at 12:08 PM on November 12, 2014


I have just gifted a toy my own ten-year-old loves. Thanks for doing this!
posted by kostia at 12:15 PM on November 12, 2014


Happy to participate--thanks much for doing the organizing, houseofdanie!
posted by DrMew at 1:59 PM on November 12, 2014


It might be Crystal Barbie! I'm going to call the listed contact at the organization again. The kids who wrote "crystal baby" have otherwise great penmanship and spelling and are in third grade, so "baby" vs. "Barbie" does make me think twice. I'll report back when I have an actual answer.
posted by houseofdanie at 7:57 AM on November 13, 2014


It looks like there are still almost 2 pages of things on the list? I expect it will get cleaned out as usual, but I've doubled down to help. Thanks for doing this!
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:36 PM on November 15, 2014


We started with 9 pages and we're almost there. On Monday, I'm going to post a 'last call.' A bunch of people sent gift cards, which'll be used to buy as many of the remaining things as possible. Anything left after that will become part of my family's holiday giving. No kid will be left wanting, I promise. Thank you immensely for checking back!
posted by houseofdanie at 5:41 PM on November 15, 2014


I have unboxed and labeled all the packages that have arrived. I know there are a bunch of boxes yet to come. For some reason, Amazon allowed more items than requested to be ordered in a few cases, so I have a few duplicates to iron out. In a couple of cases, the wish list actually reads something like, "Requested: 2, Received: 3." In others, it suggests that I have exactly as many as requested, but lo and behold, I have more of a particular thing than intended. HRM. Aaanyway, next Monday or so, I'll go through the "purchased" list and post here if anything is MIA. Please watch this space!

By the way, for the messages that people intend to be included with gifts, I had the brilliant idea of... taping the messages to the gifts. Your messages will be delivered! And for folks who included little messages for me and/or the gift wrappers with your gifts, thank you! It's been incredibly heartwarming to feel such a sense of community while we're all working on this from all over the place. I put those aside for the wrapping party.

*** Question! Did anyone order a set of Koss headphones, either to be delivered here or intended to go elsewhere? They were not on the wish list. They arrived yesterday and didn't have any kind of packing slip or anything. I'm not sure if they're a mistake or targeted at a particular child or not from MeFi at all or ... something. They are a mystery.***
posted by houseofdanie at 11:09 AM on November 16, 2014


I just bought a toy car for you! I hope it's not too late: Amazon says it will get there on the 20th.
posted by Monochrome at 4:26 PM on November 16, 2014


I can't wait to play with the toy car! Oh, it's not for me? :P The 20th is plenty of time.

All-righty, troops, LAST CALL for getting stuff from the wish list! Anything not ordered by Wednesday morning will be purchased with gift cards or distributed to my family members for purchase.

I did some switching-around of the list items, because Amazon inexplicably raised prices on a few things that are available for a lot less from places like Target. Target's offering free shipping on all orders right now and if you have their Red Card, you get 5% off. Or you can buy things from anywhere and just click the "Bought this item elsewhere?" link on the list to claim it as your very own.
posted by houseofdanie at 8:24 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just ordered one of the Monster High dolls from Target!
posted by jabes at 4:34 PM on November 17, 2014


Is there an equivalent campaign for the UK?
posted by axon at 3:45 AM on November 22, 2014


I think this isn't so much a "campaign" as something that houseofdanie personally organizes, because she's awesome. If you or someone else wants to set up something similar for the UK, I bet there would be interest!
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:36 AM on November 22, 2014


I didn't start this! ThePinkSuperhero spearheaded the MeFi/Winter Wishes seasonal thing several years ago. Now that she's working, schooling, and mothering two tiny children, her free time isn't what it used to be.

I did a little searching for a similar program in the UK and didn't come up with anything right off the bat, but when I have a bunch of moments, I'll do some more digging. The program we participate in is via New York Cares. They vet organizations that serve kids, teens, and families. In the fall, participants from those organizations fill out forms or cards or write letters that express their wintertime wishes. Then they collect them and people can sign up as individuals or groups to fulfill those wishes.

In case anyone would like to organize a UK effort, here's how I've been doing this:

1. Sign up to receive the letters. With NY Cares, you can choose to receive letters from children or teens. Last year, our children were all about age 4 and our teens were 14-17. This year, our children are 5-8 and our "teens" are 10-13, so there's not been a lot of separation.

2. A couple of weeks later, receive the letters. They're handwritten and in varying degrees of specificity, both about the child and about what the child would like to receive.

3. Start an Amazon wish list and populate it with what the kids want. I aim for a $50 or so total gift (NY Cares suggests committing to $40), give or take. Some are a bit less, some are a bit more. Some gifts are one item and some are a bunch of smaller items, depending on what the kids ask for. This also helps when it comes to folks' varying abilities to contribute. For items that are battery-powered, I add in batteries. I add in some wrapping supplies, for those who'd like to contribute to that effort. I also add gift cards to the list, to combine toward larger items or to grab up those last few items at the end.

4. Post to MeFi!

5. Monitor the list, because Amazon stuff goes in and out of stock like crazy. Also, Amazon's prices aren't always the best for things, depending on what sellers things are available from.

6. Receive and open packages. This year, I think I've received about 150 packages. Since each gift needs to be labeled with a kid's name and identification number after wrapping, I label each item with that info right after it comes out of the box. I find it on the wish list and note that it's been received and labeled. This is how I keep track of things that might be lost, duplicate items, etc.

7. At the end, buy up all the unclaimed items with gift cards and family donations.

8. Have a gift-wrap meet-up, usually hosted by someone else.

9. Transport the gifts to their end organization. Last year, snickerdoodle did both the wrapping party and the transportation. In previous years, spec80 held the party and someone else did the transport. This part has been pretty flexible. Whatever gets the gifts to the kids!

If I can find something specific to the UK, I'll definitely post it.
posted by houseofdanie at 10:30 AM on November 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Btw what was the mystery gift? Was it a Crystal Barbie? I have to know!
posted by billiebee at 10:58 AM on November 22, 2014


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