The Thanksgiving Project started as a simple blog post from Jill Smokler (aka Scary Mommy) back in 2011. This post talked about how some people in the Scary Mommy community had a rough year and simply couldn’t provide a Thanksgiving dinner for their families. Some could barely afford a loaf of bread.
Jill had the idea of asking her large community of followers for help. Would they be willing to donate some money, even a small amount, to make sure everyone would be able to celebrate Thanksgiving?
The answer was a resounding Yes. Jill was overwhelmed with people who wanted to donate. She also heard from many others who needed help. The story received a ton of media attention, including on Good Morning America, Nightline and the homepages of Yahoo and Huffington Post.
An average Thanksgiving dinner costs $50. In that first year of the Thanksgiving Project, the Scary Mommy community raised more than $20,000 and provided meals for more than 400 families.
After the success of the first impromptu Thanksgiving Project, Scary Mommy Nation quickly became a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization powered by mothers helping other mothers. As Jill told me in an email, “Once I saw the impact the site could have, I couldn’t not want to do more. I realized that people really want to help, they just need to be shown how to do it. Being official helped give me the structure I needed as well as a legitimacy that’s needed when collecting money.”
In addition to the Thanksgiving Project, there is also a Birthday Project. Jill hopes to expand the impact beyond Thanksgiving, possibly adding other landmark days such as Mother’s Day and Christmas.
As of Monday morning, Jill still had 235 people on a waiting list for the Thanksgiving Project, and the applications for help close on Friday. While Jill says donations come in as quickly as money, it takes several donations of $5, $10, $20 etc. to cover each gift card.
For my November Giving Pledge donation, I gave to Scary Mommy Nation along with fellow co-authors of The Mother of All Meltdowns. Together we hope to help several families in need this holiday season. If you’d like to join us, you can donate through the MOAM website or directly on the Scary Mommy website.
If you can’t afford to donate at this time, I hope you will take a moment to share this post.
If you need help, you can apply at Scary Mommy’s website up until November 15th.