Monday, October 14, 2013

About Christmas and the Gift Card Exchange

Hello.

I should have written this weeks ago, but the truth is - I've been procrastinating because I don't like making this official. Here it is: We are not doing a gift card exchange this year. For the past two years, Kate, Guru and I have loved and labored over over the holiday gift card exchange.

Last year did not go well. From the technology end, everything fell apart, making our job ten times harder. People very kindly offered to help us with amazing ideas and offers of their time. To every single person who offered to help us,  I can't say this enough:
THANK YOU. Thank you thank you thank you.


But the bottom line is - we can't let you help us run this project. Thousands of people were sharing very personal information with us and we had to protect that. We very carefully guard the names, addresses and stories that people trusted us with. We could not let other people (even our beloved Mommylanders) see  those emails, or have access to that information.

There were other problems.

Perhaps we all did too good a job of asking people to help us. Because we began receiving referrals from social workers, case managers and charities. We are simply not able to meet that kind of demand. Though we really want to help everyone who needs it (and these families were legitimately in need and deserving of help), we just can't serve as a clearinghouse or annual Christmas charity. We're three exhausted moms exactly like you, and while we did our best - it was really overwhelming. Kate literally worked 14 hours in a row on her birthday to make sure that every email was matched and responded to.

While some people were kind and offered to help us while we processed thousands of emails, others were not as kind. Others did not understand why the process didn't move faster or why they received less than they'd hoped, or nothing at all. Those emails and FB messages were incredibly discouraging to receive. I understand how disappointed those folks must have been, but the intensity of the anger directed at us in those messages still makes my heart beat faster.

Then there was the fraud. Because word of the project spread so far beyond the borders of our small on-line community, it was almost inevitable that we would find out after the fact that some people asked for help who did not need it.

Between the technology problems and the size and scope of the project changing and the risk of fraud, we can no longer do the Gift Card Exchange. We are so sorry. We're going to keep giving. We're going to keep teaching our kids to take care of each other in big and small ways. But we're not going to do a gift card exchange.

If you have a favorite charity or group to work with for Holiday giving or volunteering - please leave a link below. If you know of a group that provides help, please that leave info too. We know first hand a lot of people will be in need this Christmas.

I'm so sorry, you guys.
xo, Lydia

PS: To the small number of people who ripped off our project last year: (To clarify, any person who heard about us and honestly needed our help was welcome with open arms and a large coffee. So please know, I'm not talking about you sweetie.) I'm talking about the very small group of people who heard about our project and thought 'these blogger dipshits are giving away free gift cards so let's see if I can get one'. I HATE YOU AND YOUR ASS FACES. You saw a community of women trying to support each other, to take care of each other's kids during the holidays and saw it as a chance to get something for nothing and take advantage of the kindness of the people in my community. GO F**K YOURSELF. Do you realize that some women bagged their lunches for a month so they could send you a gift card? Or decided that instead of getting anything for themselves, to spend it on you? YOU ARE A BAD PERSON. Oh, one more thing, crotchface! Before you do it again to some other blog or charity - consider locking down your Facebook wall. Because while we believe very strongly in protecting privacy and not outing people, even when they're being huge assholes, the next person you take advantage of might not. Think about THAT.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013

77 comments:

  1. Thank you for your hard work and effort in the past. Doing a positive thing for a few years is so much better than doing nothing at all!!!! Kudos for a fabulous few years and double kudos for recognizing the limitations forced on you. Hugs and wine for ALL!!!

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  2. I am sorry people are Jackholes (thanks for ruining it for the rest of us). You guys are the best and thank for trying to do a good thing! I will continue to give in a different manner and hope that it gets to the people who genuinely need it.

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    1. I also want to say thank you thank you thank you for the two years that you put this together - the big hearts you all have are wonderful!!! (I forgot to metion that in my last post)

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  3. 100% understandable. Good for you for realizing that you too are valuable and you have to set some boundaries to protect your time and your family. Sometimes that means making hard choices, like this one. But that doesn't make you bad or selfish, it makes you a good mommy. Good mommy's know that sometimes you have to say no, even when you don't want to. Many hugs and thanks to you for all the work you three have put in the last few years.

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  4. I was proud to be a part of the project. I am in awe of you for the idea and the enormous amount of work that you put into it. I am so happy for everyone that got a much-needed gift. I am so sorry for the abuse. I guess it was inevitable but still... heartbreaking.

    When talking to my kids about good choices, I mention that when I was a teenager and young adult I did many many things that were good and kind and that I can be proud of. I can't remember any of them. But I have a sharp and searing shameful memory of the times I did something that was wrong. Sharp and searing enough to guide my choices since. I wish the same for those few abusers that disappointed all of us.

    Sending love and Holiday Spirit to you all,
    Beverly

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  5. Just so you know...I LOVE you guys and appreciate everything that you have done for all the good folks out there.

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  6. I'm so sorry this happened. It makes me more determined to help locally. You ladies are a blessing.

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  7. I am so so sorry that your experiences with the gift card thing were not all positive! Some people are really dipsh*ts. I was excited that after two years of receiving gift cards, I was going to be able to GIVE them this year!! I will find a new way to give this Christmas instead. But please know that the generosity I received because of you ladies was so very appreciated by my family the past two Christmases. Don't let the losers get you down - you guys ROCK!

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  8. I'm.glad I was able.to participate last year as a giver. The lesson I taught my girls was immeasurable and we will do more locally this year.

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  9. I completely understand while saddened, hope that those who gave continue to feel the spirit of giving. Check out the giving trees at your local schools, shopping centers and places of worship. To those in need, please don't give up hope - consider letting your schools and places of worship know - ask how you can register to be a giving tree recipient. We do this every year with at least 5 different giving trees.

    To those that ripped you off - you deserve a special place in hell. May you get what you deserve - something chronic, itchy and uncomfortable; only decaf and no wine.

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  10. What is that saying? "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good" Something like that... You did good. Was it perfect? Nope, few things are, but I hope you still know that you guys did a LOT of good for a LOT of people during a tough time. Don't let anyone take that from you. It's completely understandable why you couldn't continue, and I don't blame you one bit.

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  11. I must've missed that last time, because I didn't know that you guys did that. I totally understand how overwhelming it can be (I work with a non-profit). For me and my family, we like to shop for other children through Operation Christmas Child (a ministry of Samaritan's Purse), Angel Tree, and our local DFCS. If any of your readers are interested, those are good places to start. Or, if they are involved with a church - the church almost definitely knows of needs. And while they can't tell you who needs, you could make a donation or fill a shopping list for the church.

    Hugs to you guys!

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  12. I am sorry that people misused the helping hands. :( Hopefully people who helped out in the past years will find another charity of choice to help families in need at the Holidays. Love all that you guys do!

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  13. I hate to be bitchy (but I'm going to do it anyway). Last year I was SO EXCITED to be a part of this project. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan, so I knew I wasn't going to spend big bucks on gifts for him. After all, what does a soldier REALLY want while he's in the desert for Christmas? He wants to come home. And since I didn't want to send any nice, expensive gifts AND since I couldn't bring him home, I channelled my $$$ into this exchange last year. I was matched with a woman in Nevada. I sent her $175.00 in gift cards. You read that correctly. And I never heard a word. Not one word. No e-mail acknowledgement. No thank you. No nothing. (Yes, I sent her all my information). And while it is always better to give than to receive AND I am well aware that if you expect thanks for something, then you are doing it for the wrong reason, it still hurt my feelings to not have a gift like that acknowledged. Yes, my head tells me that I did the right thing. But my heart was sad. So even though my husband is now home, and we have moved overseas for the next three years, I was still ready and willing to participate in this year's exchange again. So yes, I am a little sad that it won't happen this year but I completely and totally understand why, and I fully support your decision. Go ahead and hate me for "expecting" an acknowledgment, but hey, Aunt Flo's in town, so all bets are off. I hope the lovely ladies who run this blog have a very merry and stress-free Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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    1. I can totally relate. I was super excited to participate as well, and never heard a WORD from the mama I hooked up. It was discouraging. If someone went out of their way for ME, I would have been SO freaking grateful! But, I guess not everyone is raised that way. Again, I didn't participate in this project to receive a giant pat on the back or anything like that, but still.

      God bless you and your family.

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    2. yes, yes, and yesser!! while not exactly in the same boat as you, i had saved from 3 paychecks and not given as much to other Christmas charities to support this last year - i was excited and over the moon about being able to be a helping hooker to a mommy in need. i sent a money order (as the woman i sent to din't seem to have much close to her) via OVERNIGHT fedex (that's pricey schmidt!) with a sweet note saying she was a good mommy and everything. i included my contact info and what did i get? not even an email or shout out post.

      please don't read this as i was looking to be made a saint for helping, but acknowledgment that it was received and appreciated would have been nice. things and people in my life went without (and they tried very hard to understand why i'd help a stranger, in some peoples cases) so that i could help someone who needed it more. it was just sad to never hear those two words that would have really made my holiday sweet: thank you.

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    3. I felt the same way. I was actually in a position where I could have asked for help because I was struggling. Due to some unfortunate events in my life I was left to care for my two babies alone( 2 year old and 4 month old at the time). But instead I decided to cut back on a few things and help someone else in need. It was good for my soul and felt awesome in a time where I was so down. I saved and sent $100 gift card and a nice hand written letter to a momma in need. I never heard anything. It still felt good to help, but I couldn't help but wonder if I had sent to someone just trying to scam off of other people.

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    4. I'm so sorry you didn't hear back from the ladies you helped. Unfortunately I put my name on the "please help me" list last year. I didn't receive anything, and that's totally okay...but part of me is afraid that some lovely mama somewhere DID send me something and I didn't get it (sometimes there is a problem with my mail being shuttled by the post office to the wrong address, it's happened many times). And that mama might be thinking "ungrateful person, a thank you is nice". So, let me be the one to say to you ladies.....thank you for helping out someone down on their luck. I'm sure it meant a great deal to the ones who received it. Thank you for being kind, and giving for those moms. Thank you for doing a good thing. Bless you all.

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    5. I am also sorry you didn't hear back from your ladies. I feel the same way. I am lucky enough to have been able to participate both years. Last year instead of only helping one person, I decided to help 3 (don't know why it didn't occur to me the first year.) As a result of helping more people, the amount was less ($40), but I thought it was better that way. I wish I could have given more, but that's a whole other story. Well, one of my 'helpee's gave me a shout out on here that made my whole week (just went back and read it again and :) ). Then there were some people who had to jump on about how little it was?!?! Hurt my feelings a bit, gotta be honest. So THANK YOU for the shout out and I wish it could have been more, and that you are doing better this year :)
      Debbi F APO 09250

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    6. I am sorry you didn't hear back from who you helped. I was helped, it made a BIG difference in my daughters Christmas....I was able to get them each two gift of what they really wanted from Santa...I hope my person received my letter of thanks. if not.....BIG THANK YOU TO ALL THAT HELP. its hard to ask but this made it easy. lisa Graham

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  14. Thank you for everything that you did and all the time you spent away from your families to help other families! You are all awesome women! I was blessed enough to receive a gift card the first year and was able to give my son a Christmas he would have otherwise not had at all. I was able to build up a small savings to do it on my own last year, but not enough to contribute to sending a gift card to someone else (which I truly wanted to do). This year, I was fully prepared to sign up to send something to another family. I'm so saddened that there are terrible people to ruin this great thing y'all were trying to do. I'll be using the money I had saved this year to buy some toys myself and donate them. Thank you again for being awesome!!

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  15. You ladies are the absolute best and there is a special place in heaven for all you have done (maybe even a special place here. You know that day when all the wheels on the shopping cart go the same direction, you pick the short checkout line and it actually goes fast and NO ONE in line screws up the flow? Yeah, that's a little cosmic 'thanks.')

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  16. I am sorry that there were people who took advantage of the gift card exchange, and I am sorry that there were complaints... but, when you look back at this experience I really hope that you will see the good that you did and the love that you inspired.

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  17. I appreciate everything you stand for. And all the mommies out there that sacrificed a little bit of themselves to help out other mommies in need. In fact, I was one of this mommies in need last year and I was looking forward to finding a way to give back this year. If you still want to help out a family in need, find your local Angel Tree and adopt a child in need this year. And to the fraudsters out there.....Karma is a really big BITCH.

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  18. I can not imagine trying to coordinate something like this around the holidays...what you have done the past few years is amazing and teaches all of us how to be better parents, and frankly, better human beings. The world needs more people like you fine ladies!! Giving around the holidays to people in need is something everyone can do-just look online or around the community that you live in-you will find something!

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  19. Samaritian's Purse is a great cause

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  20. We participated for the first time last year, and while I think we all know there are those trying to cheat the system, when you give to something like this, you step out in faith, knowing you are doing a good thing for the vast majority of people that are legitimately in need. Phooey on those who were jerks, but thank you for allowing us to be a part of reaching out and supporting others in their time of need! You guys are awesome and an inspiration!

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  21. Do not feel bad about what you CANNOT do. Feel great about the good you HAVE done. And while some may have taken advantage, if even one family that had something they needed when they needed it most - then that is what matters. Kisses, hugs, wine, cookies, and foot rubs ladies!

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  22. I totally get it. And, while i was hoping to give instead of receive this year, i realize that there are plenty of women in my area that need help.
    So, we will still dry clean and direct-donate outgrown jackets, and donate perfectly good toys my boys are over to one or two women's shelters. This year, we can even help support Christmas for some kids who otherwise wouldn't have one. We know what its like on that side. Its our duty to lift up the people around us however we can.

    Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts Kate, Louise and Lydia, for having such beautiful hearts. We love you.

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  23. You chickies were wonderful to even do this the past couple of years. I understand the time demands, and sympathize. To those who blasted Lydia, Kate, and Guru for questioning "why the process didn't move faster or why they received less than they'd hoped, or nothing at all" -- get over yourselves. To those who received "help" fraudulently --- there is a special place in hell for you jackholes.

    One charity I might suggest this season (in light of the government shutdown) is Fisher House. http://www.fisherhouse.org/ This supports military families in need. And while the military have been paid during the shutdown, many services available to them (i.e. access to the PX and Commissary for food and household supplies, access to extracurricular activities for their kids, and non-emergency health care to name a few) are not available. I would venture a guess that some families might be using Christmas money to buy food right now.

    Just a thought.

    Lydia, Kate, Guru -- y'all ROCK.

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  24. Thank you to all of RFML for starting this movement! I will take these ideas and act locally this year. Pay off a layaway, volunteer in the soup kitchen, food drive, etc. Lydia, you and Guru and Kate did a totally awesome job with this. Nasties x3 for the complainers. And for the greedy d-bags who took when they didn't need to- nasties x a billion and Karma will kick you in the taco.

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  25. Thank you for trying so very hard and for doing as much good as you did. I'm sorry that anyone gave you grief for "not doing enough"... that's horrendous. If people are looking for a way to help others this holiday, check in with your local DSS office. Most areas have one, or at least have the information to get you in touch with a regional one. There are always kids in need (especially at the holidays) and going straight to the social workers is a great way to find them.

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  26. The good news is that this gives everyone who was planning on participating this year a chance to find someone in their own community to help instead. It's not that hard. A quick call to either your (or if you don't have one, the nearest) house of worship will likely result in a match with *at least* one needy family, as would a call to a local homeless shelter, or your local YWCA (which often run parenting classes for needy families).

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  27. Thank you for you hard work on this project. I completely understand why it was too much for a volunteer force of three people with real lives.

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  28. You ladies rocked this project. The fact that people are jerk faces does not take away from your sweat and work. Thank you so much for doing it as long as you did.

    I fully intend to donate gift cards to a women's shelter local to me. Still because of y'all. :)

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  29. While I was organizing my house the other day I ran across a card from a woman I was able to assist last year. I feel blessed to be able to make someone else's holiday a little better. I am a bit saddened that the project will not be continued, but then I remember that no matter where you are there is always a way to help those in need. You ladies are truly inspiring, and I thank you for helping the world to be a better place for all. As far as the douche-canoes who used the system as a way to get free money, karma will eventually catch up to them some way.

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  30. You ladies rock. The fact that you did this project for not one, but TWO years in a row, makes you all saints. And no disrespect meant to anyone's religion, but I'm going to make you my patron saints of all things funny in motherhood, including boob stains. On a more serious note, I followed your gift card exchanges the past two years with special interest because 1) my own family was suffering from financial hardships and reading some of the recipients' stories reminded me of how truly fortunate we were, so I could pull my big-girl-pants on and stop feeling sorry for myself and 2) I felt badly because I was in no position to contribute anything. Happily, I should be starting a new job soon that will help us slowly get out of the weeds, and one thing I really look forward to this holiday season, aside from getting out of debt and giving my kids more fun experiences, is to be able to contribute to local families in need. You have no idea what an impact your efforts these past two years have had on those of us who weren't even directly involved! Now go take a well-deserved break, drink up your T-boxes and spend some time with your little angels/monsters.

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  31. Thank you to everyone who gave, of their time, of their heart, of their money. Good deeds are never EVER wasted, even if the process has a few bumps & folks end up getting inadvertently bruised. Love is never wasted when it is spent, it is only wasted when we are misers with our hearts.

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  32. I totally understand and am sorry that you had to take crap from *anyone*! There are lots of ways to help people this Christmas and I will do so in your honor.

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  33. I am extremely proud of your hard work and dedication to this project and for sticking with it for TWO YEARS!! I can't imagine the amount of time and energy you put into that and there is a special place in Heaven for you because of it. As for your p.s., ROCK ON SISTERS!!!

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  34. People always feel bad when they can't continue volunteering their time for a good cause. That's crazy. Feel good about the good work you've done and then reclaim your time for yourself and your family. Just because you mamas did some incredible work does not mean that you are obligated to keep it going forever. No one would ever start anything new if they thought it would become a lifelong commitment. Congrats again on pulling off an amazing project that connected a lot of moms with big hearts. Maybe you could do a guest post from someone with an especially interesting story about helping out a local family on their own this year.

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  35. While I'm so sad that the project won't be happening this year, I completely understand why it has to be this way. Thank you so much for everything that you all did to make this thing happen. I can't tell you how amazing it was at Christmas and Valentine's Day to take some time away from my worries and focus that energy on someone who was really going through a rough patch. The kind notes that I received in return are some of my most prized possessions. I have them tucked away in a special place and I pull them out when I'm feeling down. Your project has made me a better person. I guess it was in there all along, but taking part in this has trickled in to other parts of my life. Thank you. I really can't thank you enough.

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  36. Thank you for all your hard work the last two years on this project! I'll continue to wear my Helping Hooker shirt with pride! Just an idea for anyone looking to donate this year, I'm donating from me and my kiddo to a women's shelter.

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  37. It positively breaks my heart that people exploited such a wonderful thing. I don't have kids of my own, but my friends are moms, single and otherwise. The year before last, I had to watch my best friend go through the struggle of being a single mom raising four kids on meager wages. I also remember the phone call I got from her when she received an anonymous gift card in the mail. I wanted to cry for her because I know what she goes through from day-to-day, and I know she deserves it. You ladies did so very much to bring even the smallest amount goodness into the lives of families everywhere, and for that I tip my hat to you. :)

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  38. I participated in the gift exchange from both ends. The first year, I sent out a gift card. And last year, after some loss of work, a move to a different province, unexpected bank incompetence, 2 freaking mortgages cause no one would buy our old house, etc, the thought of buying gifts for those I love made me shaky and sick. We had nothing extra. The "big" gifts I gave were ones I bought months and months in advance. Other gifts were gifts I found on Kijiji or I made. We ran out of oil on Christmas Eve last year. We spent the winter buying jerry cans of furnace oil to keep us in heat and hot water because we couldn't afford to get the oil truck to come and give us even half a tank. I got an ulcer.

    We got 3 or 4 gift cards in the mail. I cried each time. Ugly cried in my car. I was shocked, amazed, humbled (oh so humbled). DS had an awesome Christmas thanks to those cards and my make-it-stretch mind-set. And our families REALLY came through for us.

    We are back on our feet this year. I thank God for that every day. I was looking forward to sending a few moms a few dollars this year. But I'll forward the good vibes along to the Salvation Army and the local shelter.

    Thank you for organizing those amazing gift exchanges. Thank you to the ladies who sent us a gift card.

    Crap. Now I'm all choked up again. :)

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  39. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all of the hard work you ladies put in! Thanks to your example, our MOPS group will be doing a service project similar to yours this year. I am excited to bless others and share the love of God. Don't be discouraged, you did great! :)

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  40. Just know that for every asshat that abused your program, you helped at LEAST a hundred Moms that truly needed it! And even though the card program is discontinued (for very legit reasons I might add), the Moms that you helped are STILL HELPED. Forget the actual $ factor, you showed them hope and love and that will last forever dear ladies. Y'all rock and the negative Nellies can suck it!! :)

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  41. Thank you for all your hard work on this project!

    A friend of mine lost her son in an on-the-job accident 5 years ago. Since that time she has provided Christmas gifts for children in need in the name of her son. It's a small group in Florida, and I can't help but wonder if there aren't a few moms out there interested in joining in giving Christmas to some kids who might not get it otherwise. You can learn more at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Because-of-Brian/118755288232537.

    Hugs, CHill

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  42. Before I participated two years ago, I had a talk with myself about whether I was ok with the possibility of being scammed. And I decided for myself that whatever happened, I was just going to trust and let it go.

    I understand completely why, once the thing became a thing, it became untenable. Just wanted to say thank you for starting, for trying, for committing, for believing, for sacrificing, and for making something happen. It was very good, and the fact that it isn't continuing doesn't take away from the good that it did. I will find something to sneakily give to this Christmas, and I'll be thinking of R from Mland while I do it. Best wishes to you.

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  43. Lydia, Kate, and Guru~
    I love ya'll more than cake! Your blog has gotten me through some really shitty Mommy days, so I happily participated in all of your Hooker projects.
    I am sososo sorry this turned into a giant clusterf**k, BUT...we all know your hearts were always in the right place. You worked your ever-lovin-Mommy ASSES off, and anyone who pooped on our parade is a major loser who is staring that karma bitch right in the face...and peeing a little.
    I agree with a comment further up in this thread... http://www.fisherhouse.org/ Fisher House sounds like the *perfect* Mommyland charity. I think we can all rally around something like that; and instead of our desperately missed pal Kate...*sigh*... working her Choos off on her birthday, we could set up a PayPal button for a Mommyland charity tidal wave.
    God bless you amazing ladies for ALL that you do.
    Now go have an XXL Self Esteemy spiked with vodka.

    KathyT

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  44. You are still the best hookers I know! It sucks that some people suck! And...I am truly sorry that people were rude and threatening to you-there is no excuse. But still, I want to thank you. I have always tried to help people - especially at the holidays. As a kid we had close to nothing and my mom still taught us how to give in other ways to those around us. Now that I live comfortably as an adult, I am happy to do what I can to pay it forward from the generosity people showed us in my childhood. Of all the programs I've taken part of, this was my favorite. I'm not even sure why -- maybe the grassroots movement of it, or perhaps the unified front of Mommies. In any case, thank you - it was a blast! While it is completely understandable that it had to end, in a way it will live on. So many of us can (and will) look around and find that family from work/school/church, or that complete stranger and just shower them with goodness and any help we can--and that will come from the seed you planted. THANK YOU for making this world a little brighter!
    Jen Deming

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  45. is there no one in the mommyland community with (or with access to) someone who could write a computer program that could anonymously match up givers with receivers? that would take away the outrageous amount of work you ladies have had to do. i don't have the skill (not hardly!) but it seems like something someone should be able to do. any computer geeks out there have ideas??? i'm just a regular geek, unfortunately, not a computer one. ;)

    that doesn't take care of the jerk problem, of course. but although i'm not jewish, i think this piece of jewish philosophy applies: "The merit of tzedakah (charity) is so great that I am happy to give to 100 beggars even if only one might actually be needy." (Rabbi Chayim of Sanz, Darkai Chayim, p. 137)

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    1. I agree! I was so fortunate to be in a position where I could contribute both years as a giver, and when things got crazy stupid I sent a giant old "Hook me up again Ladies!" This year my husband lost his job, had to go back to school and I had to take a pay cut and we moved 1600 km. Things are different and I know I wouldn't be able to do the same dollar value but I'm still determined to help in anyway possible! I'm coping that Jewish saying and posting it on my fridge!

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  46. I understand why you would decide against it this year. Reading these comments have made me think of a young single mom I know who babysits at my gym. She's super with the kids, unlike the other sitters who keep them safe but just sit around and talk otherwise. She's had a rough time--horrible labor & delivery that broke her pelvis in three places and left her daughter with a fractured skull and a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. I'm so thankful she found this job, as her daughter can come along and until she fully heals herself, she's pretty restricted in what she can do. She at least is living with her mom, so there's help there, but I can't imagine she has a lot extra. I think I'm going to buy her a gift card this year. Target, here we come. :-)

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  47. You are amazing. I truly feel that you made the world a better place with your two years of Helping Hookers. It made me think a lot more about what I have and what I can give. It made me look for chances to quietly help. Last year I was able to help out a mom I know personally who hit a Wall just before Christmas. I think if I didn't have your project in mind, I probably wouldn't have done it, just because I am not very brave and do not like offending people's pride. I will look again this year, and maybe drop some gift cards off with the Social Action committee at my church. Love you guys.

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  48. It saddens me that this decision had to be made, but I understand why. You guys did an amazing thing and inspired many others to get involved and help others. You should be proud of that. It also saddens me that some weren't grateful for whatever help they may have gotten and that some took advantage of a good thing intended for those in need. We are always telling our son that he should be grateful for what he has because there are so many others that are less fortunate than he is. Hopefully someday it will sink in to him. I was looking forward to helping again this year. I will have to find another avenue to help out in. Thank you for spreading the Christmas spirit in what little time you had to do it in and for showing others what Christmas and giving is really all about.

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  49. Your PS is the best thing I've read in a LONG time. :)

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  50. Last year I was able to help another mummy thanks to you. My daughter came to the supermarket with me when I purchased my giftcard and helped make a homemade card to send out. Thank you for helping me to show her that christmas is not about getting the latest toys that are advertised on every ad break on the tv and is sometimes about making someone else happy. This year she will be choosing a present for another child as there is a Radio station in our town which ask people to pick up 1 extra gift when christmas shopping, to drop off at one of the many collection points which they have set up around the town. Until I started reading your blog it was so easy to get swept up with the idea of buying "stuff" at christmas (the overpriced rubbish that nobody needs, the perfect meal etc) that the message of christmas was lost. Through your "rants" you have given me the opportunity to get some perspective on how lucky I am that my family is healthy and happy and have made me aware of my responsibility towards other families, not because they are related to me or are my friends, but simply because they NEED help and I am fortunate to be in a position TO help.

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  51. It was a great idea and a terrific thing you put in motion. I hope it inspires people to continue to help those in need. There are lots of local programs that people can donate to. Give a gift card to a food pantry, adopt a family off an angel tree, ask your church if there is a family you could help. You ladies knocked it out of the park for two years and now it's up to us to pick up the mantle and run with it.

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  52. I Just adore you and everything you are. Thank you for all your cool positive vibes. you inspire me to be nicer and kick ass. Thank you.

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  53. I'm only disappointed because I was all set up to be on the giving side this year, after receiving lovely messages and gifts for the last two. :(

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  54. This year, everyone who can should give locally to women's shelters, food banks, toy drives, and angel trees. Sign it from Mommyland - honour the kick ass hookers who started this project.

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  55. Hugs sent your way for a job well done and hope you are surrounded with peace on an understandable decision.

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  56. I work as a fundraiser for a non-profit organization and let me tell you, charity is work. It does take a lot of time to coordinate the people who want to give with the people who need help. I commend you for your efforts to give more mommas a merry christmas! And you'll never really know the ripple effect of that generosity.

    I can recommend 4 websites for looking for charities: idealist.org, www.kickstarter.com, charitynavigator.org/ and www.guidestar.org/

    And since I live in one of the poorest cities in America, 28% of Philadelphian's live in poverty (that's 28 out of every 100 people. 11 are children) please feel free to reach out to the many amazing non-profits that help Philadelphia women and families, like: projecthome.org, womensway.org, hungercoalition.org, and philabundance.org

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  57. I did not know about RFML last year but participated in a similar program on Momastery. I had some great email interactions with those I was able to help and they were all appreciate so I am sorry some of you did not experience the same. I am still in Facebook contact with one of the people I sent a GC to and get to see how her life is improving week by week That GC project was literally the ONLY thing that made me smile last Christmas as I had lost my grandson to SIDS in March 2012 and my father unexpectedly due to a car accident three months later.
    In addition to all the great options people have recommended above, let me add one more. If you have school age kids, ask the school guidance counselor if there is a family you could help. They often know of situations and can be a conduit for you around the holidays. Often teachers dig into their own pockets to provide even when they are struggling themselves. So it would be double good deed if you provide instead of them.

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  58. I just want to say that you ladies help all mommies everywhere all year long!! It is a huge blessing to have a place to go for support and sometimes a vent session. Just because the gift exchange is unable to be continued, you guys shouldn't feel bad. I was helped last year and it was an amazing blessing for my family. I made sure to thank the wonderful ladies that were kind and generous enough to help us. I am going to make sure that I help someone somehow this year. Keep your heads up, you are amazing mommies and women. . . .and I love you for that!!

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  59. Totally understandable! You did a good thing and got a lot of mommies thinking about ways to give during the holidays. I'm sorry that people took advantage of that.
    I just wanted to echo those who have suggested Samaritan's purse (or Operation Christmas Child) as a place to give to this holiday season. We've filled the shoe boxes for the last few years as a way to teach our children to give. I didn't really know too much about the charity except that they help out in a lot of third world countries which is awesome. This year our little southern Alberta town flooded and guess who came to help? Samaritan's Purse! They were amazing. They came in their red shirts and helped out all over the place. They brought hope and supplies and love. Fantastic people, awesome charity.

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  60. If anyone still wants to give back, consider going to Scary Mommy and contributing to their Thanksgiving Project at http://www.scarymommy.com/thanksgiving-2013/. $50 gives a family a full Thanksgiving Dinner when they couldn't otherwise afford it.

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  61. I was really hoping you could do this agian this yr. You did so wonderfuly last yr and i actully was needing help this yr. I am sad to see you cant do it for there is no other sight that is as kind hearted and helpful as yours. Everything i find is about taking loans out or taking surveys to points to cash in. With 2 young children only 15 months apart i dont have the means nor time to sit and do surveys all day lol. Thank you for all the hard work every one did. Its appreciated

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  62. I was sooooo hoping to do this again this year. I was apart of this the first year,.. My family and I needed help so bad with gifts for our 3 kids... my husbands job had scaled back and I couldn't work because it would be MORE to put the kids in daycare than to just stay home with them. Last year, I was able to HELP someone else through this program. I sent a gift card with 30$ on it to a lady I'd never met/heard of.. I only knew she needed help for her kids and we have the same awesome sense of humor obviously, because she was a hooker needing help.. and I was a hooker looking for someone to help. I got a thank you card from her and her 2 beautiful kids a few weeks after Christmas and I STILL have it on the fridge. I wanted to help again this year. I'm so sad that people took advantage of these wonderful ladies and OTHER woman and families who just really wanted to help someone else.

    I loved the helping hookers...

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  63. Oh sorry to hear this. I had already saved up my money for this, but I will figure something else out. Maybe in a few years down the line, when your kids are all bigger, you can do this again. I was really touched by this project last year. Thank you for putting it together though.

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  64. Oh, that's so sad. I submitted my niece's name last year, and it was probably four or five months later before she realised that it had come via me... it really made a huge difference in her xmas. Thank you so very much. <3

    Nova Scotian gal.

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  65. This makes me sad.. I was helped last year and was looking forward to giving this year now that Im back on my feet... :/ Hopefully you can bring it back next year.

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  66. Thank you for doing all of this in the 1st place! I was a hooker that got help a few years ago and it was awesome!! I decided to pay it forward and started and Angel Network in my hometown and am pairing people up with needy families and they are buying gifts for their kids. Thank you again for your inspiration!!

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  67. Thank you for your past work on this project. I was one of the families that received a gift card last year. Our family continues to struggle and my kids don't see their dad because he works for minimum wage and has to work tons of hours just to pay for utilities to keep us all warm. So sad that people would take advantage of this program, same way the people scam and cheat the state programs that are supposed to help families that are really in need.

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  68. Your idea was wonderful. I was one who received help last year, and I am ever so grateful. All of the people who gave were wonderful. (Yes, I wrote and thanked the giver as well as RFML.) I am so sorry that you were treated so shabbily when you had such lovely intentions. I am disgusted. If there is one thing I have learned in the few years that I have used Facebook, it is this... most people suck. I was an admin on 2 pages. Both were deleted due to nasty comments and the fact that so many people are bitchy, entitled brats whose minds never left middle school. You try to lift people up, and you get a bunch of flack that invariably includes the maddening "just sayin'!" Many, many thanks to you, Lydia, Kate and Guru. Thank you for your humor and kindness and faith that there is good in the world. I am so sorry that it worked out this way. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and happy, healthy new year.

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  69. Thank you. I was a Mom who was a lucky, happy mother who got a gift card. And it truly meant the WORLD to me. Pregnant with my fourth child, no job, and frantic. It made a special day for my small family of four (with one in the over). I am very sorry to hear that people took advantage of this program. Thats so not fair. I call them Poopyheads! Right?! Well again thank you from me and my family! It was very special.
    XOXO MommyLand

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