As a mom of three, my annual holiday shopping list is epic in length and ambitious in scope. Christmas may still be over a month away, but my two eldest boys have already made their wish lists, and unsurprisingly, they include all the “essentials” — like Whoopee cushions and remote-control helicopters. (Not to mention a veritable feast of candy.)
Of course, I know I’m now alone here — I’m pretty sure parents across the world are getting mile-long lists for toys and candy right about now, too. But that’s why I was so struck when I came across a 10-year-old boys’ holiday wish that’s now going viral. Not for its request for gifts under the tree, but rather, for asking to provide him with snacks. And the reason why is heartbreaking.
“I’m a 10-year-old boy,” the note begins. “I want school snacks so I’m not the only one not eating at snack time at school. I wear size 12 and I like Pokemon.”
The note was shared last week on Facebook by Things of My Very Own, a nonprofit in Schenectady, New York that provides crisis intervention services to kids who’ve been impacted by abuse and/or neglect at home. And with just a few simple words, it sadly highlights the very real but often overlooked problem facing kids and families living with food insecurity across the country.
But don’t worry; this story gets happier.
“This is a wonderful young boy who we have had the privilege of working with through our organization,” Rayn Boncie of Things of My Very Own tells Babble. “We met him earlier in the year and like most of the families we work with, this one struggles.”
Boncie explains that each year, Things of My Very Own hosts a campaign calling on the community to sponsor a child in crisis. The nonprofit also asks local businesses to host “Holiday Giving Trees”, on which small notes — just like this one — hang from the branches with the wishes of children in need. This year’s Holiday Giving Trees sit in Northway Toyota, Manhattan Bagel, and Visco’s Pizza — the latter of which was where this very note was hanging before it went viral.
After being shared online on November 11, the boy’s wish caught the attention (and hearts) of strangers across the Internet. And since picking up some viral steam, amazing things have started to happened.
“Individuals have contacted us from Italy, the UK, Canada and other countries asking how they can help improve the lives of children in crisis,” Boncie shared. “A woman from Switzerland contacted Visco’s and purchased $500 worth of pizza for the children we serve. In addition to donations, we would love it if people from around the world would send postcards with messages of hope printed on them. It would be so amazing for these children to see just how many people believe in them.”
It may be easy to assume that the program is aimed at helping kids get some much-deserved holiday treats and gifts, but as Boncie explains to Babble, it is so much more than that.
“Many of these children struggle, feeling that they are completely alone in the world,” she shares. “This outpouring of support proves that someone in the world, someone they have never met, believes in them. When they are in that courtroom, waiting to find out where they are going to be placed, someone in the world is thinking of them. Someone in the world cares about their well-being.”
And if you’re wondering what happened to that little boy’s wish, Boncie is proud to report that it’s already been granted.
“This little boy will have snacks at school for a very long time,” she shares, “but he isn’t the only one that asked for food and he isn’t the only one who needs help. Right now there is an outpouring of support. For these children, I hope it lasts. These children need to know that they matter, that they are not forgettable, and that they aren’t something that we only pay attention to once a year.”
If you’d like to learn more about Things of My Very Own, or participate in the Holiday Giving Tree program, you can read more or make your own donation via the company’s official Facebook page.