People use social media for many different things. For some people, it’s a way to stay connected with friends and family. For others, it’s an endless source of puppy pictures and silly memes. I happened to find my social media niche around the time my twins turned one.
I found myself with many a silly parenting observation and nowhere to express myself. Of course, I had Facebook, but with the rate that I was pumping out dad jokes and what I thought were humorous quips about parenting, it just didn’t seem like the right format. Then I discovered Twitter and more specifically Parenting Twitter. Finally, the unbridled validation from strangers on the internet that I so desperately craved.
It’s now two years later and my account, @TwinzerDad, has over 6000 followers. I strive to create content every day. Honestly, it’s mostly just me looking at my toddlers each morning and saying “What you got?” I honestly love doing it, but back in October, I began to wonder if I could do something more with social media. I wanted to come up with a way to channel the power of Parenting Twitter into some sort of tangible positive impact. I wanted to come up with some sort of charitable initiative.
I figured the best idea was to come up with a way for us Twitter parents to support an existing charity in a big way. The idea that I eventually came up with was to collect Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars for Toys for Tots.
For those of you unfamiliar with Toys for Tots, it is a charity run by the United States Marine Corp Reserves. They collect and distribute toys to children whose parents can’t afford to purchase gifts at the holidays. The organization was founded in 1947, and according to their website, they have distributed over 548 million toys to date. They seemed like the perfect group for us to donate to. Now we just needed the perfect item to donate.
I settled on Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. I loved this option because these toys are not only iconic, but they also inspire creativity in children. A child with a single Hot Wheels car create an adventure for themselves almost anywhere. These toys had another particular advantage. They average just around $1.00. This affordable price gives the opportunity for people to participate as much or as little as possible.
I recruited a handful of popular Twitter dads to assist me with the initiative. The idea was pretty simple. We would lay the idea out to our followers and encourage them to donate cars directly to their local Toys for Tots drop-off. After they dropped them off, we had hoped that they would just let us know how many that they had donated by using our newly created hashtag #LittleWheelsBigHearts. We set the goal at a daunting, but hopefully obtainable, 2000 cars donated between November 1st and December 7th.
The response was significantly more than we expected. People seemed genuinely excited about the initiative. However, we had forgotten about our international followers. We have followers all over the world and they were eager for a chance to help out. After taking a suggestion from a follower, I set up an Amazon Wishlist.
We hit our goal before the end of the second week. In fact during the duration of the program, there was not a single day that I did not have at least one package waiting for me from a generous follower somewhere across the world.
Things only grew from there. We had small businesses reaching out to us looking for ways to get involved. Companies like @Wohven_Tees and @Snarky_Sisters charitably donated items that we used as raffle prizes to entice people to donate. People were setting up donation boxes in their churches and school. The donations continued to pour in, well past the official end date of the campaign.
When it was all said and done and the totals were calculated, we had more than tripled our original goal. On a cold night in early December, myself and another Twitter dad delivered more than 6600 toy cars to the Toys for Tots warehouse in Chester Springs, PA.
What has this experience taught me? I think first and most importantly that amazing things can happen when good people come together with a purpose. I learned that social media can be a powerful medium when used for positive endeavors. Finally, I learned that we will definitely have to set a much bigger goal for this year’s campaign.
If you are looking to support the #LittleWheelsBigHearts campaign this year, please don’t hesitate to contact us at LittleWheelsBigHearts@gmail.com
*The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author/writer and do not express the views/opinions of Daddy's Digest.