This past November, while being stressed about how to buy gifts for my family, I discovered a website that changed my outlook and, well, the future holidays to come. The website that I discovered was Project Night Night which is a charity based out of California that aims to help homeless children nationwide. According to their website, their impact has already reached thousands of underprivileged tots and those figures are only increasing as the months go on. So far they have made quite an impression, not just with the children they are helping but also with people like me, who want to make a difference, no matter how big or small.
“Voted the “Best Children’s Charity” by San Francisco Magazine, Project Night Night has emerged as a leading provider of nighttime comforts for homeless children.
Once I discovered Project Night Night I instantly knew I had found the right charity for me. They give you three different options on how to get involved, and there is no pressure either. You can make contributions by donating money, you can donate new toys, blankets & books to your local Project Night Night (where applicable), or you can create your own totes to bring to your local homeless shelters. I chose the latter because I felt that it was more personal and I also liked the idea of being able to see for sure that my donation was going to a child in need. Not just another charity that takes your money and uses it for “administrative fees”. So, I purchased my tote bags, five total, for $3.50 each (including s&h and taxes). I then went on a mission to find cuddly new blankets, stuffed animals and books that meant a lot to me as a child. I cared most about the books to give because I developed a love for reading at a very young age and couldn’t help but think that my gift to these children might encourage them to also love books. That part pulled at my heart-strings more than any other, quite frankly. Along my journey to find the cuddliest stuff possible, given my allotted budget, I received a wonderful donation from my mother for my tote bags. She bought blankets for all five of my bags, and they were wonderful. 😀 Now all that was left for me to do was to find the books and stuffed toys. The tote bag requirements are: A new with tags blanket, a gently used or new stuffed animal (nothing with batteries or dates on them) & a gently used or new book. Like many people, I have a huge bag of toys from my childhood and luckily most of them are so well kept that I was able to use them for my donation. I figured, what better gift than one I loved so dearly as a child? I wanted to share the stuffed babies that got me through nightmares and nights where I was away from home. After that, I went to my local library and my fiance helped me choose ten delightful books for my bags. I doubled the book per bag because, as mentioned previously, that was the part I was intrigued by most. We picked titles from both of our childhood’s, such as, The Little Engine That Could, Little Women, Huckleberry Finn, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Giving Tree and etc. Once I had all of the items necessary, and the extra books per bag, I felt that still something was missing. So, I went to the Project Night Night website again and found that there are other items that can be added to the bags if you’re so inclined to get them. I chose to get travel-size kiddie toothbrushes and paste to add to the bags, because I liked how it went with the theme of the bag. Before bed we are taught to brush our teeth and then we get into bed and snuggle up with our blanket and stuffed friends to hear our parents read to us, or we read to ourselves once we know how. I added little blue and pink bells to the bags, per gender, and also included a tag that gave the desired age of the child given the contents within. The next step was the best one, finding a shelter. I chose a children’s home in Lake Worth, Florida and the week of Christmas my fiance and I drove up there and delivered our goodies.
To say that we felt like Santa Claus is an understatement. It was by far one of the most touching moments of my life, and I vowed right then to make this a yearly practice. Only next year, I will choose a different shelter to spread the love further. I hope that this post has encouraged your philanthropic side, as it did mine, but if not, at least hopefully you enjoyed my story.