Monday, December 3, 2012

2012 Gift Card Exchange - Give It Up, Mommyland


Last year we matched up almost 2,500 moms in an enormous holiday gift card exchange. We want to do the same thing this year and we need your help.

But we have to be VERY CLEAR about something first: This is an experiment in trust. If you ask us for help, we trust that you  really need it. If you offer to help, we trust that you will follow through. 

Last year we wrote:
This is complicated for us. Lydia trusts everyone. Kate trusts no one. Lydia believes most people are pretty much awesome. Kate thinks most people should avoid making eye contact with her and go away. Lydia is often sadly disappointed. Kate is occasionally pleasantly surprised. Here’s the dealio. We trust that everyone who gets on board this crazy train is doing it because they get it – that sometimes bad circumstances eat away at good people. That sometimes little things can make a big difference.
Can you imagine if you couldn’t buy your kid anything for Christmas and then you got a $20 gift card to Toys R Us? Your baby would go from having nothing under the tree to having something. We have no idea if anyone will respond to this. If we’ll get 10 emails total or a 1,000. We have no idea if we’ll be able to help anyone. Or if we'll royally screw this up.
We ended up getting over 1,400 emails in the first 24 hours. And it grew and grew until we made the decision to stop. Because if we didn't, the emails would've kept coming forever. Because there is just so much need. Military families on food stamps. Families with special needs kids. Single parents who work their butts off. Grandmas raising their grandchildren and struggling to do it.

Last year, a thousand little miracles happened and it was so freaking, heart-breakingly beautiful. But there were a handful of people who took advantage and through the magic of the internet, we found out about it. If you are inclined to ask us for help as a ploy to get free stuff, I would like to tell you something:
You're not taking money from me. Or from the interwebs in general. You're taking money from other women, other moms with kiddos who are just as precious as yours. I can't tell you how many people wrote to us and said: "I don't have much. But if I give up getting something for myself this Christmas, I can afford to send $15 to someone who needs it more."
Do not take advantage of that kind of awesomeness. That kind of selfless, loving generosity that women show other women. That is sacred. When you ask us for help, that is who you're accepting help from. Someone who genuinely cares about you and your kids, even though she's never met you. Even if it means that she goes without.

OK. I feel better now. Let's get to the point.

The project starts NOW - Monday, December 3rd at midnight. There are no limits to the people who need help and the longer we accept emails, the less likely we are to be able help folks. So please know, at a certain point we will have to stop accepting requests.

If you need help, please email us at
Please put "Need Help" in the subject line. Leave us your name and your your mailing address, as well as what big stores are near you (e.g. Target, Walmart, etc.). You don't have to tell us anything else, but your stories are important to us, too.

If you feel like helping another mom this holiday season, email us at the same place ( Please put "Can Help" in the subject line. Ask us to match you up with someone and we’ll send you a name and a mailing address and then you send them a gift card for whatever you can spare. No amount is too small, mamas. We will continue to accept email offers to help until all needs have been met. Please respect the privacy of the person you are helping. Many moms struggle to ask for help and worry about sharing their name and address. Please be protective of them as you do this.

And please, please be patient with us. Give us a few days to manage this process and remember - we have thousands and thousands of emails to sort through and there are only me, Kate and Guru Louise to do it. And one more thing, before you email us with questions - check out the snazzy Q & A we made for you. Hopefully that will help. If you need more information, shoot us an email.

Some Q & A on the gift card exchange:  
  • Can I be sure that I will get a gift card? No. We're sorry but there is no guarantee that everyone will get something.  
  • Can I ask for help for someone else? Yes. But please, please make it clear in your email that the help is for someone else. Also, you may only make a request for ONE OTHER PERSON.
  • How long will it take from the time I ask until the time I might receive something? We hope that you will get something in the mail in 7-14 days . Please be patient with us.
  • Is this email exchange anonymous? Can I be sure that no one will find out that I'm asking for help? No. We totally understand this worry and we make a point of communicating privacy concerns to everyone who offers to help. This is an experiment of trust, remember. We all have to have faith, even Kate (who trusts no one). 
  • Should I send a little thank you card to the mom who sent me a gift card or is that too weird? Oh please do! For many of us, the thank you note we received was the most amazing gift we got all year. I still carry mine around with me. Remember also that many of the moms who choose to help are making personal sacrifices to do so. Even a small card or note would mean the world.   
  • I need help this year but I still want to pay it forward, what can I do? Of course you do. You're awesome. You can join Sweet Relish. See the details below. It takes 5 minutes and they'll donate $1 to this project. See below for details. 
  • When I send the gift card - should I put my name on it or send it anonymously? That is totally up to you. Anonymous giving is great and a very logical choice for folks  who want to do something nice for someone else under the radar or because they believe everyone on the internet could potentially be a serial killer. However, many who gave anonymously last year, and then wished they'd had the chance to hear from their match. Also, many who received something wished they'd had the chance to say thank you and couldn't. It's your call, honcho.
  • Can I send gift cards to more than family? Oh even yesser. That would be awesome.
  • How long will it take for you to email me back with my match? The longest it would take is a week, depending on how many emails we receive.
  • I live in Canada, can I still participate? Hells to the yes. And we will do our best to match you with someone who also lives in Canada (but we can't promise anything).
  • Can I ask to be matched with someone in my town or state? We would rather not do that. It makes the matching process a lot more time consuming for us.
  • Can't I just send someone money via paypal? Or email them an e-card? No. Sorry, we work through the mail. 
  • Will the person I sent a card to post something on the Rants Facebook wall when she gets it? Should I be looking for that? Some people do that but most don't. Remember, Facebook is very public and most of the moms who asked for help would prefer to keep it quiet. We respect their privacy and totally get it. We have nosy neighbors, too.
Thank you for trusting us to do this. We heart your whole heads.
Your holiday hookers,
Lydia, Kate & Guru Louise

The awesome people at Sweet Relish are working with us to help moms in need this holiday season. They will donate $1 in gift cards for every person who joins their site and follows me (up to $5,000!!). If you're too busy or too broke to help to a family in need this year, here is one really quick and easy way to help.  It only takes a minute and is really useful and fun.

To join Sweet Relish and follow me, click here.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012


  1. Bring on the emails you lovely ladies!:) Off to try to help right now! You all rock the free world, and I consider myself lucky to "know" you!

  2. Sent my email, I can't wait to get some names :) You ladies rock!

  3. I am so excited!!! I hope you are still taking names after we get paid.

  4. I will be writing a post about this for a blog I write for, Crassparenting. It should be up Wednesday. Happy to help such a great grassroots cause.

  5. This is Great! Here's a tip when sending gift cards to anyone actually. I have had them stolen a few times before so now I always write on the envelope. "Photos-Do Not Bend". It has helped a lot!!

  6. Soooo . . . can you still do this even if you aren't a mom? I'd like to be one, but I'm not and I'd still like to help moms and kids.

  7. Doubling down this year and getting TWO moms! And, Lee, I am not a mom. Not to human children. Just furry ones. By choice. But I still like helping hardworking women make the holidays brighter for their kids.

  8. PS, I REALLY like Helping Hookers better! ;)

  9. I had the same question as Lee, but decided that I could still help if I wanted...hopefully I was right :)

  10. Oops! I broke a rule. I sent more than one name. I did send a story for both ladies so hopefully you will not be mad for me not following the rules ;]

  11. Way to go ladies! SO inspiring to see so many women wanting to make a difference and so thankful to these women who have stepped up to host this and make it all happen. Can't wait to help a family in need.

  12. You are so awesome! Can't wait to help other families!

  13. Got help last year.... will be helping another in need this year! Very excited.

  14. I hope my women's group agrees to help a hooker...or a few! Any chance the mums can tell us if there is something that they really want or need that we could put into a gift basket?

  15. Just sent in my email. This brought me to tears. I have been struggling for almost a year now and this is my daughters first Christmas. Thank you thank you thank you ladies! Not only does it make me feel good to know that a complete stranger is willing to help me, but it fely SO good to tell my story. I felt like ive been holding onto that burden for way to long.God bless you AND all your readers.

  16. I'm ugly crying just from reading the get post on the project starting again! What is going to happen to me by the time I've read all the thank yous on the wall and all the warm fuzzy follow ups?? I love you Hookers but you make me cry, A LOT :) Emailing you now.

  17. Email sent. I was so sad i couldn't participate last year but I'd love to help out a fellow mommy in need. Love love love this project!

  18. I am honestly not trying to pressure you. HONEST. I just wanted to admit that I have been obsessively refreshing my email account to see if I have gotten my assignment yet. It is almost like when I was a kid and was waiting eagerly to see what Santa brought for me on Christmas morning!

  19. I'm so happy to see this project going again! My hubby and I just found out we'll be parents for the first time and I'd love to be able to help out this year. I hope you're still giving out names in a week or so!

  20. I just want to thank you ladies and the anonymous "hooker" who helped out my bff. She just received a gift card and she is so excited to finally have a way to get some things for her beautiful boys for Christmas. This program is truly wonderful!! Happy holidays!! <3

  21. While I have to respect you ladies immensely, I was disappointed to send in a request for help today and find that I won't be matched with anyone. It was really hard for me to write that email and it's really disappointing that it's already shut down. Poop.

  22. Wow! you guys must be soooooo busy working hard to hook us up so we can give it up!! I just got matched today after emailing Dec 3!! thanks again for everything you do for your readers on this site: I always come back and read a favorite post when I need a giggle.

  23. Target won't send give cards with the phrase Helping Hooker in it; this makes me sad.

  24. Sending out my gift card today!! I am one happy hooker!!

  25. And THANK YOU again to ALL of YOU for doing this!! Getting the schmidt off the Yahoo fan was no small feat :-)

  26. I just received gift cards from ANGELS!! I will now be able to have some things under the tree for
    my Grand babies!I am so blessed to have found this site, you Ladies deserve a special place in Heaven
    for all the hard work you put into this!! MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!! AND GOD BLESS THE

  27. I was someone in need of help this year. I sent a simple email explaining that I have 2 kids; a 7 year old daughter and a new born son, who I'm raising on my own. I asked for nothing for myself, and explained that I understood that there are others with needs much greater than ours and if I don't get matched because of that, it was okay. I never expected to receive anything.

    I got a huge box in the mail today from a name I didn't recognize and when I opened it, I found 2 packages of diapers, a pack of baby wipes, diaper cream (the good stuff too), a game for my daughter (that she LOVES) and cards for all three of us. On top of the diapers and other presents, the cards included a $15 gift card for my son, a $20 gift card for my daughter and lastly....a $50 gift card for me. I am so overwhelmed. I've never wanted to hug a pack of diapers as much as I do right now.

    I was prepared to receive nothing, I figured if I got matched I would probably get a small gift card to get 1 thing for the kids. I never EVER imagined or expected to receive so much along with a gift for myself. The family that sent all this to us has been so generous and given much more than I could have ever dreamed.

    I don't even know what to say, 'Thank you' is not enough. It's nowhere near enough. I guess for privacy reasons, I won't say their names, but I'm sure the family recognizes all the things I've listed.

    To that family: My daughter is beyond thrilled about her game and gift card and my son goes through diapers like crazy. (He thinks it's great to poop in a clean diaper so diaper changes usually consist of 2 or 3 diapers at a time). In all seriousness, you have given us so much more than just presents, you have given me a glimmer of hope that I didn't have before and for that, I could never say Thank You enough.

    Love always,
    Lindsey, Julia and Max




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts