Santa had four elves working diligently to pay it forward in Central Florida. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working alongside local bloggers Melanie at ModernMami, Jen at TheSuburbanMom and Lee from MySentimentExactLee to provide Christmas miracles for four deserving families.
Basically, the idea was sparked by Melanie when Kohl’s provided generous gift cards to “pay it forward”. Kohl’s has an amazing program called Kohl’s Cares in which they give back to their deserving communities with money, resources, talent AND time!
The four of us met at Kohl’s for our shopping extravaganza. Equipped with the family wish lists and a stack of coupons, we each divided and conquered. The end result, we were able to make four families Christmas wishes come true! Kohl’s has a huge variety of merchandise, so we tackled just about everything on their lists (household items, MP3 players, toys, clothing, shoes, perfume, accessories, etc.).
Here are a few images of our Kohl’s purchases, not everything.
For some, Christmas lists can contain frivolous items and tons of toys. What we saw from these four families put it all into perspective! These particular wish lists were more like “necessity” lists. We had requests such as “kitchen towels” and “nothing really but perfume appreciated” from two different mothers. We made sure these ladies received those specific items as well as extra surprises. Also, we went heavy on clothing for the families, each child received multiple outfits and the parents who provided sizes also received clothing and shoes. As for toys, the lists indicated what the children were interested in so from there we used our imaginations and selected age appropriate toys (the ages ranged from 3 months up to 14 years old).
In addition, we each contacted brands we have relationships with to make our contributions even greater. The response…well, it was enormous! It took four vehicles to make the deliveries! We all met at the first charity to deliver packages for two of our families (along with our children so they could experience the generosity). The receptionist was overcome with emotion! She was amazed to know we provided EVERYTHING these two families needed and then some! THIS is what Christmas is all about, there will be lots of smiles!
I’d like to acknowledge the following brands for their donations to this Pay It Forward effort! We are so appreciative!
- ALDI: Facebook, Pinterest
- ConAgra Foods: Facebook, Twitter
- CoverGirl: Facebook
- CVS: Facebook, Twitter
- Dockers: Facebook, Twitter
- Energizer: Facebook, Twitter
- Hallmark: Facebook, Twitter (special thanks to Melanie who has been working with Hallmark on the Life is a Special Occasion campaign and was able to coordinate through that partnership)
- Johnson’s Baby: Facebook
- Kohl’s: Facebook, Twitter
- Mead Online: FiveStar and EarlyLearning
- Playskool: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
- Scholastic: Twitter
- SeaWorld; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- The Motherhood: Twitter
- VeggieTales: Facebook, Twitter
Here are some photos of our wrapped donation items:
I learned several things during this experience. First off, the brands who helped Pay It Forward are simply awesome! All were supportive and generous with their donation items (products, gift cards, monetary contributions, etc.). Because of them, four deserving families had their Christmas wishes filled.
Secondly, the local bloggers I worked with are amazing! Even though I know all three, I learned a bit more about each of them through this experience. Melanie is extremely organized and connected, she created spreadsheets to keep our communication and donation items in order. Also, her house looked like a warehouse with all the brand donation boxes stacked high! Jen is a coupon queen, I am impressed with her money saving abilities! Because of her, we were able to stretch our Kohl’s gift cards to the maximum. Lee worked diligently with her brands even up to the day we made deliveries (some contacts were out of the office). She now has donation items being sent directly to the families and/or the charity supporting them in order to help out. So, for several families the surprises do not end on Christmas day, they will also receive blessings after the holiday! It was an honor to be part of this collaborative effort with such amazing friends AND brands!
I encourage everyone to grab a name off an angel tree, support a local charity, help a needy family, and/or donate to a shelter. Your efforts will make a difference! Pay it forward and feel the true meaning of Christmas!
* Disclosure: Kohl’s provided a gift card for purchasing donation items in order to Pay it Forward in my local community. Additional donations were provided by each respective brand. No compensation received.