IMPORTANT: Please DO NOT POST THIS TO FACEBOOK.
Please share it via email, or in private messages ONLY.
Please, please, don't spoil the Christmas surprise.
(I'm looking at you, Charlene Zausner!)
Please note: this collective gift site has been set up, and is being managed by lifelong friend, Jennifer Bennett. If you have questions or concerns, please send me an email: [email protected] or speak with John's sister Julee, or Jennifer Gollop Strong. All funds collected before and after Christmas will be forwarded to John and Erika.
They do not know about this project, but will find out on Christmas Eve.
This is not about "charity". This whole project is about friendship, love, and the spirit of Christmas. There is no room for shame, or guilt, or negative energy. Please let this be a place of positive thoughts, positive energy and most of all, love for two people who we are oh-so lucky to have in our lives.
No pressure to pitch in, and please feel free to follow along and watch this Christmas gift grow.
If you have talked to Erika lately, you have most likely heard about "Christmas Elves" who have been pitching in to help her and John get through this holiday season - secretly paying for things, dropping off groceries, or slipping them some extra dinero.
As always, Erika is counting her blessings, and is completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the many people who surround her, John, and the kids. And it got me thinking about the power of people, of email and social media, and the power of love and friendship.
Read on!!! But only if you can keep this a secret!!!
Let's be honest here - Erika and John haven't exactly had an easy time lately. In fact, the last 6 years have been incredibly hard on them both - emotionally and financially. When the U.S. economy went down the toilet, and their mortgage was worth more than their home in El Cajon, they decided to move back to Newfoundland to try and make a better life for themselves there.
And things have gotten better......their beautiful family was expanded by two! and they have managed to pay down a lot of their debt.
But the brutal truth is that Erika and John still struggle more than most of us could ever imagine - unable to secure a mortgage, and sometimes not sure how they are going to fill their gas tanks to get the kids to school. These are the heavy realities that Erika and John face. Realities that most of us are fortunate enough to know nothing about.
The weight of their situation wears on them, and wears on their esteem - these are educated, hard working, and good-hearted people. They shouldn't have to stuggle this hard - but they do.
Having a beautiful and healthy family is a miracle - a fact that isn't lost on Erika who is constantly trying to look at the bright side, and focus her energy on the positive things they DO have in their lives. Where so many people would give up hope, and let the weight of this situation take them down, Erika refuses to stop believing that they will come out on top of all this...still together, still in love, and still so lucky. I am amazed that she has the energy to keep flipping that coin to the bright side....but she does it all the time. Truth be told, it is exhausting for her.
The thing that none of us can understand, is the fact that John hasn't been able to get permanent employment since moving back home, and more specifically, since being hired by Newfoundland Power. Being a contract employee means that you get paid, but you do not get paid vacation, benefits, or the ability to secure a loan with your bank. Small things that most of us are lucky enough to take for granted.
The really perplexing part about that, is that anyone who knows John is aware that he is the hardest working man out there!!! Give him a job, and he will break his back to do it, and do it RIGHT. There really aren't many people out there with the his incredible work ethic these days - and those of us with cushy office jobs know this all too well. I will openly admit that I don't work half as hard as John does.
On top of working full time hours, John also takes on endless side jobs building patios, decks, and stairs....all so he can keep his family above water. But just barely.
Of course, none of us like paying our heat bills, or filling our gas tanks. But imagine not knowing how you are going to pay the heat bill this month. Or really feeling the hit to your bank account or credit card statement when you have to fill up your car.
Imagine having $400 to finish getting ready for Christmas. And then your kids get sick, and you need prescription medication but have no insurance because of the lack of permanent work....and the medication costs $175! That is half of what you had left......gone.
Think about what it would be like if your spouse had to work outside the home 50-60 hours a week, and the end result was that you barely get by?
Your spouse would miss the kids, the kids would miss their parent...and you? Well, you would keep a brave smiling face for the sake of the children. You would focus on the good stuff, accumulate masses of pictures with your spouse absent from them, and you would miss your spouse on a pretty constant basis.
They don't talk about it, but this is what it is like for them.
Keep reading! The sad stuff is almost over! I promise!
We all know that talking about financial troubles is a taboo thing amongst friends and family. If one of them had an illness we'd be talking about it more than we talk about this...
And asking for help is often too humbling.
So screw it! I am doing it for them.
I know that so many of us want to help, but feel overwhelmed - what is our small gift of $20, $50, $100 really going to do for them in the big scheme?
But just imagine what it would be like if everyone who loves John and Erika pooled their money to give them one big gift? A gift that could help them for many months to come?
What if we created a webpage that allowed people to do what they can, and do it easily?
What if 100 people gave $100?!?
Yes, I dream big, but I know how surrounded Erika and John are, because they are two of the greatest people I have ever been lucky enough to call friends....and I believe this is possible.
These are life changing amounts for Erika and John - an amount that none of us could do alone, but a very achievable if we band together.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how they got here, what matters now, is how hard they are working to try to change things.
So this is me...lifelong friend of Erika and John...asking you to give however you can. Think about it. Most of us can blow $25 or $50 in a day, and have absolutely nothing to show for it. $100 to most of us, really is nothing - we spend that much at Starbucks every month, or grabbing lunch with friends a few times a week - luxuries that Erika and John just cannot imagine being able to afford. But these small amounts put together and given by us, could change their lives and help them see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Let's give them a Christmas miracle that will blow their minds. They deserve it.
In fact, nobody deserves it more.
IMPORTANT: when donating, if you do not have a pay pal account, please click on "buy as guest" as the bottom of the pop-up to give easily with credit card.