I’m going to call 2013, The Year of Lessons.
In 2011, the first year of the Thanksgiving Project, I either mailed the cards myself or had the donors send directly to the recipients. For the most part, that system worked for the 438 recipients. Except for the handful of people whose gift card never arrived because the well meaning donor either forgot a stamp, misplaced the envelope or Thanksgiving just snuck up on them too quickly. Honest mistakes, but after overnighting way too many gift cards the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I vowed to be in control of everything the next year.
In 2012, I had cards shipped directly from the specified grocery store along with a handwritten note sent separately. That worked fine enough, but meant two separate mailings, and the Walmart envelopes didn’t quite convey the warm and fuzzy feeling I wanted to get across. There had to be a better way.
Enter this year. The plan was to go back to handwritten notes and cards, but once we reached 2000 people, that became too daunting a task. So I did something I’ve never before done: I partnered with a company to help me.
The company could personalize each card at no additional cost, and gave me a great deal on printing the greeting card I designed. They ship millions of cards a year and were certainly better equipped to handle the job than I was. Finally, a fail-proof solution!
For a variety of reasons I’m unable to get into, the cards–which look beautiful and are customized $50 Visa cards– were shipped late this afternoon via USPS (see picture below.) While this is not the update I wanted to be sharing this evening, it was unfortunately the only way to get them into everyone’s hands. The company worked with me all day to find a better solution, but it just wasn’t possible.
I know you may not have the Thanksgiving you planned, but I hope you can use the gift card toward a late Thanksgiving meal or perhaps even for Christmas diner. Or, just for groceries or whatever else might make life a little easier for you.
The Thanksgiving project is supposed to lessen holiday stress, not add to it, and words cannot express how sorry I am for this turn of events. For those of you who are frustrated and angry, I understand. Multiply your frustration by 2,700 and that’s how frustrated I am. And for those of you who have been understanding, thank you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your patience and kindness.
In the midst of all of this chaos and disappointment, I don’t want to forget all of the good this year: The fact that we raised well over $150,000 in a matter of weeks, and thousands of families will benefit (eventually) from the kindness of strangers.
And I’ll promise you one thing: If you need the help next year, you will get it within ample time to prepare for your holiday, dammit. Even if it means me hand delivering every card myself.
We’ve gotten to the bottom of it.
For the last four days, I have been nagging the reputable, global gift card company that is shipping the Thanksgiving Project gift cards. I’ve asked them every day since last week, “so you are sure they went out, right?” And every day the answer has been yes.
After many calls back and forth and a sinking feeling that something was horribly wrong, I heard from the company, and this is what they told me: “We thought the cards had been printed and shipped….and they weren’t.”
So much for outsourcing to make sure things run smoothly.
The good news is the company is doing everything they can to rectify the situation and cards will be delivered via FedEx on Wednesday, so everyone will still have their Thanksgiving dinners after all.
And that is what’s most important.