I have a love/hate relationship with social media.
From the negative, social media has done very little good for my family. While in some cases it has allowed me to share photos and videos of my children with my extended family in ways I never could before, social media has also done a lot to tear my family apart. The ease in which we fling our political opinions at one another in cascades of blistering visceral and hate has had such a negative effect on my family that they often have a hard time hearing one another’s name without injecting some sort of negative feelings toward one another. My extended family will never be in a room together without harboring feelings of hurt and resentment toward each other. Honestly, that breaks my heart.
On the positive side, social media, in particular Twitter has given me a creative outlet that I was missing in my life. It has allowed me an opportunity to reunite myself with my love of writing and most importantly it has given me a place where people laugh at my jokes.
2018 had been a rough year for me. In July, my father had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. While the prognosis and eventual treatment all pointed to the positive, it was still a terrifying time in my life. I had been struggling with many of my own demons. I had gotten the band back together. The front man on lead guitar and vocals was Anger. Anxiety was playing the drums and coming in strong on the bass guitar was depression. Social Media wasn’t doing much to help that.
It’s been one of my personal mantras in life that the best thing to do when you’re down is to try to do something kind for others. Even if it doesn’t help you to feel better, there is still the note of personal satisfaction at having played a part in making someone’s day just a little better. Since I had recently gained a moderately strong following on Twitter, I thought I might use that positive social media presence in my life to help do something great for someone else.
What became of that was the 2018 Little Wheels Big Hearts campaign. During this time, I worked with several other Twitter Dads to help orchestrate a toy drive for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. The idea was simple but in my mind ambitious. I wanted to use my limited social media influence to inspire people to donate Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars to their local Toys for Tots drop off locations. The idea was simple enough, the ambitious part came in with our goal. We set out to have 2000 cars donated between November 1st and December 8th.
I had chosen Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars for a few reasons. The first is that they are a highly accessible and can be a very inexpensive toy. Everywhere from Amazon, to Walmart to the local grocery store carries at least a limited selection of these vehicles. They also are an iconic toy. Many people have fond memories of playing with them in their own childhood. Finally, they are a toy that can easily become a favorite, despite its modest price tag. A kid with a little space and a big imagination can have a lot of fun with a single car.
The response we received from Twitter was amazing. Within hours of the original post, people from all over the world were asking how to get involved. Since Toys for Tots is a program that only exists in the United States, our international followers needed a way to participate. One of them suggested an Amazon Wishlist. I quickly created one and posted it online. The next two days would be the only days during the whole campaign that I did not have at least one package at my door from a generous person somewhere in the world looking to make an underprivileged child’s holiday just a little more special.
Our ambitious goal of 2000 cars? We exceeded it in less than 10 days. It happened so quickly that we needed to increase our goal to 5000 cars. When the dust settled at the end of the campaign we had collected more than 6600 cars.
We have set our sights pretty high for this year’s Little Wheels Big Hearts Initiative. We are looking to donate 7500 toy vehicles this year!
To make this happen, we are going to need your help. We have a number of ways to get involved. Starting October 1 through December 6 we will have our Amazon wishlist live (link below). We will be running weekly raffles with prizes from some of our amazing partners like Snarklets, Wohven and High Brew Coffee. This year we will even have some charity auctions through Ebay featuring art from independent artists as well as other items to allow us to raise some funds to purchase cars when we find some great deals on them.
The success of Little Wheels Big Hearts is the result of what happens when good people come together to do great things. It’s the little acts of kindness that make big differences in the end. If you’d like to follow the campaign this year, check out #LittleWheelsBigHearts on Twitter. If you’re looking for ways to help get involved this year, shoot us an email at LittleWheelsBigHearts@gmail.com or donate directly through our Amazon Wishlist.
Finally, Little Wheels Big Hearts is an awesome but demanding initiative. Luckily, I have gathered some truly amazing people as part of the Little Wheels Big Hearts Council. If you’re on Twitter, give them a follow. I wanted to take a moment and let them introduce themselves and explain in their own words why they chose to join the Little Wheels Big Hearts Council.
My name is Mark and I’m from Washington State. I have 2 children – a 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son – and I’ve been married to @melicious_mama for 15 years now. When I first started working with the Little Wheels Big Hearts team last year, it was more or less for selfish reasons. There was a really great group of dads working together on this. I really looked up to each of them and just wanted a reason to be a part of anything they were doing. It wasn’t until the project really took off that I realized we were really onto something special and we were going to be able to make a difference in thousands of children’s days with the project. I remember the impact a new Hot Wheels or Matchbox car had on me when I was a child. It changed my day and I’d carry my newest car around with me everywhere. I love that this project is an opportunity to give that to children who need it all over the country. This year the team has grown and even some of my favorite moms who I also look up to, so I really think we’re going to have an amazing year.
My name is Payton, but you probably know me as Lurpee (@Lurpee). Growing up, my family didn’t have much. We didn’t receive gifts often and when we did, it was usually something small … like a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car. None of that bothered me, of course. I loved those cars so much that I would play with them all day. Just making engine sounds and jumping imaginary ramps. I even made myself a little cardboard carrying case from some old cereal boxes.
From the moment I came across this charity drive and #LittleWheelsBigHearts I wanted to jump right in. I was creating a logo and making charity-drive videos before they even asked for my help (LOL). The idea that I could help bring that joy I remember so sharply to a child that may need it more than we know… well, that’s just magic.
My Name is Ryan and I am the co-host of the parenting podcast known around the world as Dad Fiction. My co-host and I were asked to be a part of the Little Wheels Big Hearts campaign and I was honored to join fellow parents in trying to make the holiday season brighter for some children. When I heard how many cars were donated last year I knew that I wanted to be involved this year in meeting and exceeding last year’s goal.
My name is AJ, and I’m the handsome, funny, charming half of the @DadFiction podcast. I’m honored to take part in this year’s Little Wheels Big Hearts campaign. Last year I watched, in amazement, as a handful of Twitter parents rallied a community around a wonderful cause: bringing joy to children. While participating in fundraisers for Rady Children’s Hospital, the YMCA, and others, I’ve discovered a passion for helping people, and especially children. So when, we were approached about helping with Little Wheels Big Hearts the decision was pretty simple.
This year I (we) can’t wait to help promote, expand, and further the reach of such a heartfelt and generous program.
My name is Tina, I am the cool one of the group. I have been in education for...well, nevermind how long, I'm a seasoned teacher, let's leave it at that. I love anything that has to do with kids, and take part in other charities such as, Give Kids the World, Salvation Army Christmas program, and many things through our church. So, when I was asked to take part in Little Wheels, Big Hearts, I was 100% on board. I am very excited to help us reach our goals this year.
Hi! For those of you who saw my #1HonestMinute video from last year, you know that my favorite part about the holidays is how people come together to help others. Little Wheels Big Hearts gives me the chance to bring a touch of joy to a kid who may not get that otherwise. By focusing our efforts on class toys that are less than $1 each, everyone can help bring a smile to a child this holiday season.
This article was brought to you by Snarklets, Bracelets & Gifts Hand Stamped with Mantras for Real Life.
Dale was born in Pittsburgh, PA but currently lives outside of Reading, PA. He graduated with a BA in photojournalism from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA in 2007. He has worked as a Marketing Brand Representative in the optical industry for five years. Dale lives in a quiet suburb with his beautiful wife and twin three-year-old boys. He enjoys Pittsburgh sports, comic books and bad action movies from the 80’s and 90’s. Dale also runs a comedic twitter account under the handle @TwinzerDad.