As we prepare to take a brief break for Christmas, we wanted to share this tremendously uplifting story, one that just makes you want to go out and hug strangers. Or at least bloggers. Or at least Jenny Lawson.
Lawson, aka "The Bloggess," is one of the funniest women on the Web, hands-down. But this Christmas, her trademark snark has been set aside in favor of tremendous generosity.
It began as a simple plan to send $30 Amazon gift cards to 20 families who couldn't afford to buy presents for their children. When far more than 20 commenters began sharing their stories of hardship, other readers offered to pitch in to help.
Here's the first update Lawson posted:
"When things seemed dicey and I was about to call for an end to comments a wonderful man emailed me and told me that he’s so enjoyed the community on this blog that he wanted to donate $1000, no questions asked. So, ten people who were really struggling woke up this morning to $100 in their paypal accounts. Another reader offered $250 to a family in desperate need. A doll-clothes store owner sent sent seven beautiful Madame Alexander/American Girl dolls to wait under the tree for seven little girls who truly needed a single happy surprise in their lives right now."
That was posted Dec. 17. It was just the beginning.
Several updates and heart-warming anecdotes later, Lawson posted this conclusion:
"Over 900 gift cards were sent out by 689 people who were so thrilled to help. 450 people who needed small Christmas miracles received small donations for medicine, food and presents under the tree for their children. No large corporations got involved. No one only offered to donate if they got something out of it themselves. With no sponsorships, no ulterior motives and with only a simple need to reach out and help a perfect stranger 689 everyday, normal people (Jewish, Christians, Atheists, Muslims and more) sent out over $40,000 worth of donations to make sure Christmas came."
I think Washington Post blogger Melissa Bell captured this phenomenon best with this summary:
"Reading the comments is like watching a ticker tape equivalent to the end of 'It's a Wonderful Life,' with the whole town coming out to pay off George Bailey's debt."
For those of us who might have grown a little more cynical about social media this year, I hope this story serves as a warm reminder that the community spirit is just as alive today as it's ever been. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple, wonderful gesture to remind us.
Photo credit: Michael Hicks on Flickr.