FAMILY & PARENTING

Kids Write ‘Needs And Wishes’ For Holiday Gift Tag Program, And Their Requests Are Devastating

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

It’s a time-honored tradition for children who celebrate Christmas to write a special wish list for Santa to fulfill.

But for children whose families are going through a hard time, there are much more pressing needs that must be met — like food and clothes.

Thanks to Things of My Very Own, Inc., needy children in the Schenectady, New York, area now have a shot at getting those needs met this Christmas. The nonprofit organization has a holiday gift tag program that raises funds and goods for needy children.

Each child or caregiver fills out a “wish tag” with a little information about their situation, their child’s clothing sizes, and a list of needs and wishes.

“Single mom working 80 hours a week to keep my home and take care of my kids and got very sick,” one mom wrote.

“My dad has been out of work due to heart condition, we have to move,” wrote a 12-year-old boy.

The “needs” include items like food, underwear, and bed sheets, while the “wishes” include gift cards, Nike sneakers, and “anything cats.”

Thanks to the power of social media, these gift tags are now making it far beyond Schenectady. People from all over the country are working hard to make these children’s wishes — and needs — come true.

Things of My Very Own, Inc., is a nonprofit organization based in Schenectady, New York. The nonprofit’s mission is “providing crisis intervention services to children impacted by extensive abuse and/or neglect.”

The nonprofit also provides services “to children who are, solely due to the lack of items necessary for sustainability, at risk of a Child Protective Services intervention.” The organization operates year-round, but it has a special program for needy children during the holidays.

Any child or caregiver in need can fill out a special “wish tag,” which Things of My Very Own then shares with potential donors. Donors then shop for the items and deliver them, unwrapped, to the original location where they picked up the tag.

The wish tags explain each person’s situation along with a list of “needs” and “wishes.” One 11-year-old boy, for example, listed socks and underwear as his needs. Under “wishes,” he wrote “Nerf guns.”

Some wish tags come from single parents who are having a hard time taking care of their children and need help providing both basic needs and a little holiday joy. Others come from kids with mental health challenges.

And still others come from families who have recently been through a crisis, like this 13-year-old girl whose family lost their youngest child in a fire.

The young teen’s wish? “Anything cats.”

After Things of My Very Own receives the filled-out wish tags, it shares them with willing donors and partner organizations. This holiday season, the nonprofit has nine participating partner locations, from auto dealerships and restaurants to law firm and a hair salon.

With this collaborative effort, the nonprofit organization becomes filled with gifts for children each Christmas. It’s a lovely thing that these children will receive not just the basic necessities, like socks and bed sheets.

But the children from these needy families also get to enjoy some special, just-for-fun Christmas gifts, as all children deserve. The nonprofit works hard to ensure that all the children it serves experience some joy during the holidays.

Thanks to social media, the gift tag program isn’t limited to Schenectady anymore. People from all over the country are learning about these children’s situations. If you don’t live locally, you can support the program by making a financial donation.

And the nonprofit’s Facebook page is now filled with compassionate people who would like to sponsor a child. The organization further connects donors and the children who receive the gifts by providing donors with updates about the children and families they sponsor.

Judging from all the comments on Facebook, people are willing to help however they can, even if that means sending much-needed money to the organization or delivering gifts to the nonprofit through Amazon.

It’s horrible that any parent or child would end up in this situation.

But on the other hand, the fact that there are so many people willing to help families in crisis is pretty amazing.

If you’d like to sponsor a child or donate to Things of My Very Own, visit its Facebook page or its website for more information.

You can also check with local charities in your town to see if they have any programs like this!