As we all know, things don’t always go according to plan, even for the elves at Elfster. But when Team Elfster needed help hosting a very special gift exchange, several “helping hands” stepped up in a jiffy. We would like to applaud these Elfster “super-users,” who are members of our Elfster Elite Facebook group. This group of active exchange organizers not only manage their own large groups on the Elfster site all year long, but are vital to the success of Elfster’s own charitable mission.
Earlier this year, Elfster was proud to announce its partnership with First Place For Youth to offer a Secret Santa Charitable Gift Exchange for kids in the foster care system throughout California. First Place serves foster kids who have the greatest needs in their community, helping them find their way as adult and build a foundation for a bright future. Elfster looked to our generous users who would be willing to send a gift or gift card for a minimum of $25 to a young person facing the challenges of growing up without a family as they transition out of the foster care system. Many people heard our request for help, and with your generosity, we were able to grant the wishes of over 70 young people. Unfortunately, not everyone who committed to helping the cause followed through by sending a gift to a deserving young person, which meant 24 were left empty-handed. Not sure where to turn for help, Team Elfster reached out to the Elfster Elite group and within minutes, helping hands stepped up to make sure no one was left out of the giving.
“If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path.”
First Place believes that all foster kids in the United States can achieve self-sufficiency and make a successful transition to adulthood so that the disparities between them and their non-foster care peers are eliminated. First Place is a national leader in building the evidence to support this drive and in increasing awareness, changing perceptions and building a movement to make it happen. For more information about First Place For Youth, check out their website at http://www.firstplaceforyouth.org/.
Elfster would like to give a shout-out to the amazing exchange organizers who took it upon themselves to assist Elfster in fulfilling wishes for these young people, including Serena Knautz, who organizes unique gift exchanges for a group of book lovers all over the world devoted to author Tarryn Fisher; Shannon O’Neill, who organizes exchanges for her Bright Sider group who follow the positive messages of author Kim Holden; and Marie McFadden who organized a “Running with Curves” exchange this summer.
But one group turned it up a notch and generously embraced the call to action. Lacie Phinney, who administers the 4,200+ person Shifting Lilly Chat Facebook group, as well as several Elfster exchanges for the group, said the word and her group stepped right up! Ninety-five members of the group, which is a forum to discuss the iconic Lilly Pulitzer brand of bright, bold American resort wear, responded to Lacie’s request to help Elfster, and all were anxious to help as many of the exchange participants as possible. Together they raised $1,515 to be split amongst 20 of the First Place young people. Because of this group’s charitable giving, each participant in the exchange will receive a very generous gift card, or special gift chosen from their wishlist.
“I’m so impressed by these women, they never disappoint when it comes to giving to a good cause,” said Lacie.
As one group member put it, “I think we should do this more often! Thank you Lacie, we are a powerful group and can make a difference!” And we couldn’t agree more!
Members of the Shifting Lilly Chat group have also expressed the desire to provide additional assistance to First Place For Youth, and according the organization’s director, here is what they need: “School supplies are always useful (think college-school age (flash drives, backpacks). Right now we also have a need for items like first aid kits (small for an apartment) and child safety kits for the parents in our program (with things like cabinet locks, etc.), battery-operated radios—as well as hygiene supplies and gift cards to be used as incentives when young people do well. For example, when a young person gets a job, we might give them a $25 gift card to Ross or Target, or if they pass their driver’s license test, a $10 gift card to Starbucks. Little celebratory things, like a parent might do when their child does well!”
Are you part of a group interested in charitable giving that would like to give back to the community? Contact Elfster at email@example.com. You can reach us via Facebook here. Tweet us @elfster or catch us on Instagram at #elfstergram.