More than 1,100 underprivileged teens in Bucks County will have something for the holidays thanks to the efforts of United Way Bucks.
The annual Holiday Gift Card Drive was short the night before its deadline last Friday, Dec. 15, but a final push brought them well above their stated goal. Now, 1,160 teenagers will have $30 in gift cards so they can purchase a gift for themselves.
UW Bucks Director Tim Philpot came into WBCB for Speak Your Piece Tuesday and noted social media, like the UW Bucks Facebook page, was a huge asset in bringing in the final donations.
“We certainly pushed the word out to people who follow us that there was still a gap and we were trying to make that up,” Philpot said. “And we stay in email contact with folks who are our friends. We pushed the message out and the community responded.”
Philpot also added it’s common for people to give anonymously. One mysterious person dubbed “Mrs. Claus” put out a request for someone to match her $750 donation. A total stranger named “Secret Santa” quickly responded and donated in kind.
“They feel blessed with what they have and they want to share it with other folks,” Philpot said. “They know we are a trusted partner that can help them reach out and make the impact they want to.”
The UW Bucks Gift Card Drive is also serving a niche demographic. While a program like Toys For Tots raises toys for children, not many teenagers would be thrilled with receiving a doll or Lego set. A gift card lets the recipient pick a special item they yearned for throughout the holiday season.
“The other thing is we stay in constant touch with the folks doing the Toys For Tots. We’re able to refer younger children to them and they’re able to send older children to us,” Philpot stated. “It’s not a competition, it’s really a friendly collaboration.”
Each teenager will be given $25 for a shopping outlet like Target or H&M, and $5 for a bite to eat with friends at a place like Starbucks or Chick-fil-A.