When So Much Good Happens You Feel Pukey From Smiling and Happy-Crying: The Holly Jolly Hedge Fund

TODAY’S BREW: Dunkins dregs

By Julie 

It’s occurred to me that blogging falls to the wayside A LOT, and that my blogs lately are about doing things for literacy and kids. Well, today that’s what I’m writing about, so suck it up.

A truly amazing thing has happened.

You all know how I run Scholastic Book Fairs as if it’s my life-long dream. It became about more than being a part of my boys’ education, became more than being about having book fair fun… I know these kids now. I wanted to do something for them that was more than books this time.

Then my friend-since-forever Jill said, “You should do something that Wayne would be proud of.”

Jerk. She said that, can you believe it? She said the thing that slapped me right in the gut-heart combo.

Wayne is my stepdad who passed away just a few weeks back. He was one of the most generous of heart people I’ve ever known, and he loved Hedge. This was the first year he wasn’t able to make the Veteran’s Day celebration there, where he gets to sit up in front of all the kids and be honored for his service, and he loved that. So this just worked out.

Ben and Grandpa 2017 veteran memorial

Grandpa Wayne and Ben, Veteran’s Day at Hedge Elementary

The oldest school in Plymouth, Hedge Elementary is the also the smallest school in Plymouth (and there are a lot of schools here). The charming old community of North Plymouth is tiny, and all the students are within walking distance of Hedge–we don’t even have a bus! And it’s the lowest income part of town, too. Its students have plenty of challenges, and the holidays can be one of them. We’re talking about a school where the amazing nurse set up a program where many kids go home every single weekend with a backpack full of food. A school where the PTA head and mother of 5 Hedge students over the years makes an enormous Thanksgiving feast every year and serves it so that she knows every one of those children will have a Thanksgiving dinner.

I did this thing: Holly Jolly Hedge Fund

My mission is to fill these ridiculously cute and incredibly useful little Thirty-One totes:

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with Something you want, something you need, something to snuggle and something to read.

Yep. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE OF THEM. No pressure. Nope. *dies a little on the outside and a lot on the inside,* but that fear wasn’t going to get it done.

All I could do was START.

I put together a massive THING with Thirty-One because I need the bags, right?

But then I gotta FILL those suckers. For something they want, I found these awesome little gingerbread men from Oriental Trading Company that it will take them a little time to make, and they won’t get thrown away in two days. Found their somethings to snuggle there too. For something to read, I SHOULD have enough Scholastic Dollars to get books for all the kids free. (Scholastic Dollars is credit earned as a percentage of book sales.) For the something they need, I found the least expensive gloves I could–because I still had no idea how to pay for them aside from my side commission–and they’d still be more than a lot of these kids would have for winter. But then my sister piped up and said she’d make hats.

And hats she made. I think she’s on like number 25.

Then my wonderful aunt heard about it and she mailed me 11 more.

My wildly talented writer friend from Twitter, Eva Gibson, mailed my sister some yarn. And a buddy from my hometown is bringing my sister yarn today. And people are offering up their yarn and their time to make these kids hats with love instead of some crappy stuff from Walmart. People from all over started rallying around it and I’d barely said a word.

Then the Go Fund Me suggestion happened, and I just did it. Even though asking for help even for something not for me is hard, I did it. But I wouldn’t post it to Facebook because it affected so many of my friends there. Lucky for me, the Twitter community and the friends I’ve made there are incredible people. Once the Go Fund Me caught a couple of retweets, in less than an hour it raised over $1000. I had only asked for $600 as a high estimate, because again, asking for money is like UGH. In minutes, 50 people or something had shared it, directly asking people I didn’t know to do the same. I tried to thank every single one but 150 degrees of Kevin Bacon later, I lost everyone. There were donations of everything from five bucks to five hundred. The guy who made Lore?! AARON MAHNKE? Yeah, him. And a woman I’ve never seen or spoken to gave more than I could have believed anyone would. People I know have nothing extra, and people I don’t know at all. Then someone on Twitter I know not at all shows up and she’s from Plymouth too, and SHE donated…it’s just been so wonderful to see.

There are good people out there, folks. You’ve got to be one of them to surround yourself with them.

Now I can give the kids even better stuff, and instead of looking at cheap crayons, I’m looking at Crayola 24 packs. Instead of the cheaper but still adorable stuffed animals, I’m looking at plush teddy bears.

It went from seeming impossible to OH MY CHRIST, WE HAVE TO PUSH THIS SO MUCH HARDER NOW BECAUSE LOOK AT HOW CLOSE WE ARE!

And I raised that Go Fund Me goal. Because we can make this AMAZING.

And the thing that just about everybody thought couldn’t be done, IS BEING DONE. AGAIN.

If you want to help out, here’s how:

  • SHARE THE GO FUND ME OR DONATE. Every dollar helps, every share helps, which sounds cliché, but in a half hour we went from not being able to do this to OH MY GOD IT CAN BE DONE. Holly Jolly Hedge Fund.
  • LOOK INTO DONATING A THIRTY-ONE LITTLES TOTE. Get your Christmas shopping done (or get something awesome for yourself because IT’S CHRISTMAS) and donate to the fund at the same time. Message or email me: juleshutch at outlook dot com. (and you might even win a thing).
  • MAKE A HAT OR FIFTY. We still need hats! Nothing fancy necessary!
  • GOT A BUSINESS OR A BOOK YOU WANT PUSHED A LITTLE? Help me out with this and we’ll put flyers, coupons, greeting cards from your business (I will personally fill them out from you, for them) into the bags, on the blog, all over FB and get you as many likes as I can… Hell, I’ll write you into my next book. YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME.

Do something for someone who needs it. This campaign is just big enough to be more than I can do alone, but small enough that every single helping hand makes it achievable TODAY. And thank you, all of you who’ve given of yourselves so far where you can, in any way you can.

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And you get a Favorite Things list, and YOU get a Favorite Things list…

TODAY’S BREW: Peppermint Mocha made at home so Not That Good Peppermint Mocha

By Julie 

I WANT TO MAKE A LIST OF THINGS I WISH I COULD GIVE TO EVERYONE SO HERE WE GO. Granted, I could make 100 of these lists, but these are the ones I can think of right now, so go. Because you have gifts to get, and the majority of this stuff will be totally cheap because I am cheap. Not like that. Creeps.

Click on anything in bold to connect to the site.

  1. Star Wars Galactic DiceThis game is small, so you can keep it next to you to play spontaneously for quality time when your kids look at you and say they have nothing to do. It’s totally fun, there’s math so learning, and if you’re awesome you can get the R2D2 tin. Best thing ever.
  2. Thirty-One Double Duty Caddy. I have approximately 749 different Thirty-One bags around my house because they are endlessly useful, super cute, and really sturdy. They hold all my things. Files, books, severed heads, art supplies, animal supplies, animal art supplies, school supplies, small toys with nowhere else to go, big toys with nowhere else to go, socks, makeup and stuff… They’re a good spot for throwing all your stuff at the end of the day, like keys, pocket pickins’, your phone, gloves, all that stuff.
  3. Folger’s Simply Gourmet Coffee. Folger’s is not just your elderly great-aunt’s coffee anymore! As one who is endlessly seeking the just-standard-enough coffee to be delicious but not fancy pants, for everyday use, I was totally blown away by the Folger’s gourmet line. Even the bags are pretty. It’s insane. Sorry, there is no Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee I can recommend still. That’s still your chain-smoking uncle’s coffee.
  4. Burt’s Bees Lip Crayons. Oh my god, I’m so pretty in this it’s ridiculous. These things have great color, they’re hydrating, and I can’t live without Redwood Forest. They’re the perfect lipstick/balm.
  5. Brave Soldier Anything Ever. But particularly the antiseptic healing ointment. We are constantly hurting ourselves or having surgery or something, and this stuff heals you instantly basically and takes away all your pain, except the emotional damage. Nothing helps that, not even time.
  6. St. Ives Coconut & Coffee Scrub. This shit saves my life daily. I cannot explain what it does, but there’s magic involved. A friend told me it literally takes a layer of skin off your face, but my argument is that this was a used layer of skin anyway. Do yourself a favor, man, woman or beast, use this stuff.
  7. THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS by Leigh Bardugo. If you read anything from fairy tales to cereal boxes, you’re getting this book for Christmas. If you go to a Barnes & Noble store, you can probably score yourself a signed copy. It’s the most stunning collection of short stories/original fairy tales that I’ve ever seen or read. Reading them out loud to my oldest son every night now. And it smells so good. And don’t try to touch my copy.
  8. Woot.com Nutcracker Crapvent. I adore Woot.com because of these things: A) Daily Tees. $8-11 t-shirts that are awesome. B) The Derby. They host a themed t-shirt contest a couple of times a month or so, and artists submit art for tees. You can vote for as many as you want, and hopefully they’ll get made and sold for the Daily Tee.  C) Daily Deals. On all kinds of weird crap. (see also the Nutcracker Crapvent.)
  9. The Raskog. This 3 tier rolling cart is not just a charming Swedish product–it is a way of life. I don’t know how I evened before the Raskog. I sing it songs. “Julieeee does like it/ build the Raskog/ build the Raskog.” My entire workstation is now mobile. It is covered in magnets, and bins and hanging folders, all kinds of clever little ways to dress the sucker up so that you never have to find anything again. I have two now. I want 5.
  10. Piece of Cake cupcakes. This place doesn’t get the attention it deserves because the delightful Cupcake Charlie’s is basically across the street. But while the selection and the cute-itude of Cupcake Charlie’s is fantastic, I like the actual cupcakes at Piece of Cake far more. Not to mention that it’s a little delicate sort of tea shop and just soothing and charming.
  11. Cupcake Charlie’s. So, this place. It has incredible cupcakes with frosting that might make your teeth fall out? But so what. And the shop has a Willy Wonka-ness about it that’s just so much fun, and we love hanging out there at the little outdoor tables.
  12. Konditor Meister Since this whole thing is about cake now, this is the only cake shop I would actually travel to just to get a damn cake. We’re talking the awful exit where you have to cross three lanes of traffic in .5 seconds and will most certainly sit in traffic on the way home for 45 minutes. But this place. This cake.
  13. Artsonia Kids Art Gift Shop. FINALLY, kids’ art products made cool. You can get your kid’s artwork made into jewelry that has interchangeable snaps to feature whatever artwork you want. You can become fans of specific kids’ artwork, so it gives them great encouragement and 20% of sales go to the child’s school art program. I love this place.

OKAY, I think that’s enough for now. We can resume with all the stuff I love another time, but until then order from these places and be happy.

oprah

stop talking