Receiving the Gift of Giving

As a young teen, one Holiday season, my parents decided to spread the cheer to an underprivileged family in our area. We were to take a few kids out shopping with us, each of them was given a small stipend (with which to spend on gifts for their siblings). I remember that day vividly – never feeling more grateful for the things I had been given in seeing what others did not have.

So, when Sears offered to sponsor a $500 shopping spree under their ‘Don’t Just Give a Gift, Grant a Wish‘ effort, I didn’t think twice about what I wanted to do with the gift card. It’s all about the toys at Christmas – and even though we don’t have kids of our own, Ponzi and I both thoroughly enjoyed taking a trip across town and down memory lane as we tore through the “Toy Shop.” The goal: to find $500 worth of toys to give to a local donation center.

Now, before I continue, I must again point out that Sears gave me this opportunity. I received the $500 gift card from IZEA, but these experiences are 100% my own. What would *YOU* do with this $500 – spend it on yourself or on somebody else? I chose the latter.

We filled a shopping cart and a half with new toys and remakes of yesteryear. I remembered getting a set of magic tricks for Christmas one year, so I snagged a magic kit from the shelf. I also remembered getting lost with a Rubik’s Cube on Christmas morning, so that was another must-buy. Then there was a time I really wanted a microscope (I still remember my onion skin slide), so a little bit of science made its way into our “buggies” – that’s what Ponzi calls ’em. Oh, and I can’t remember a single childhood Christmas that didn’t have a Star Wars something in it, so I snagged a few figurines, too.

We circled the Sears Toy Shop a few times, making sure we saw everything. Hulk Boxing Gloves: you don’t wanna see me when I’m angry! Chatterphone: rotary dial! Lincoln Logs: time to build something! Operation: don’t touch the sides! Let’s grab some Play-Doh, too – and we can’t leave without taking a few NERF balls with us. They make a portable Lite Brite now?! Man, I wish I was a kid again. For an hour, I felt like one.

Ponzi saw some toddler toys she used to chew on. Well, not HER toys – but the same kind. There were a few other baby items we thought would make wonderful presents for some kid this Christmas season. The game Don’t Break the Ice (which I had received as a birthday gift one year), a tea set, a couple of Barbie dolls, a Hannah Montana UNO card game (another childhood birthday present), a Mr. Potato Head, and… oh, so many memories. We weren’t just buying toys, you know? We were buying future memories for children – who will hopefully carry those memories into their adult lives.

It felt good. It felt really, really good.

Hours later, I walked into a local donation center and asked if they accepted toys. One guy asked: “Depends on what condition they’re in.” I told him they were brand new, and his eyes lit up like *HE* was a kid on Christmas morning. The whole place was buzzing with excitement. We unloaded the toys and I thought to myself: “I’ve gotta make this a new Christmas tradition.” So, thank you Sears, for giving *ME* the gift of happiness.

But Wait, There’s More…

Don’t Just Give a Gift, Grant a Wish - Receipt

It’s time to share some of that happiness with some of you. Another contest is upon us (Official Rules). I’ve created three separate Sears gift bundles worth ~$500 apiece: LEGO Wonderland, Star Wars Smiles, and Family Game Night. These, much like the aforementioned shopping spree, were inspired by my own childhood Christmases. If you’d like to receive one of them, it’s super simple to qualify:

  1. Leave a comment on this post with the bundle you desire (and why).
  2. Post to your twitter account if you have one, making sure you include – #Sears @chrispirillo – and whichever bundle you desire in your tweet.
  3. Make an entry in your own blog if you have one, making sure you link back to this particular post URL and mentioning which bundle you want (and why). I register most trackbacks after I’ve received at least one click from your permalink to mine.

You can enter once by commenting, once by twittering, AND once by posting in your own blog (that’s three chances to win what you want). The winner will be selected at random, mind you. So, which one of these gift bundles do you want most?

LEGO Wonderland

  • 10 Cool Lego Mindstorms by Astolfo, David
  • 10 Cool Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 2 Projects by Ferrari, Mario
  • Adjustable links with Mini Kinght
  • Building Robots With Lego Mindstorms NXT by Astolfo, Dave
  • Creator Stegosaurus
  • Extreme NXT by Gasperi, Michael
  • Forbidden Lego by Pilegaard, Ulrik
  • Getting Started With Lego Trains by McKee, Jacob H.
  • Gold Hunt
  • Jetrax T6
  • Jin Sato’s Lego Mindstorms by Sato, Jin
  • Lego Mindstorms NXT-G Programming Guide by Kelly, James Floyd
  • LEGO Star Wars: Ultimate Collectors AT-ST
  • Police Headquarters
  • Programming Lego Mindstorms NXT by Bishop, Owen

Star Wars Smiles

  • Clone Wars Blaster Game
  • Clone Wars Galactic Heroes: Trooper
  • Han Solo Bobble-Head
  • Mad About Star Wars by Bresman, Jonathan
  • Millennium Falcon
  • Mr. Potato Head: Star Wars – Artoo-Potatoo with Princess Tater Figure
  • Robot Chicken: Star Wars
  • Star Wars – The Best Of
  • Star Wars Clone Trooper Helmet
  • Star Wars Clone Wars Plug N Play Game
  • The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia by Sansweet, Stephen J.
  • The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader by Windham, Ryder

Family Game Night

  • 1 vs. 100 DVD Game
  • Baffle Gab
  • Dance Maker Truth or Dare Mat and a Tote Bag
  • Disney Villains Combo: Checkers and Tic Tac Toe
  • Griddly Headz Racing Game
  • Harry Potter Scene It? Game
  • High School Musical 2 Deluxe Plug N Play TV Game
  • Karaoke Pop Culture Hip Hop/R&B Vol. 1
  • Monopoly Here and Now World
  • No Brainer Board Game
  • Rumis
  • Sea Monster Board Game
  • Tenjo Game
  • Trapture
  • Whac-A-Mole Tower
  • WordSpot – Bookshelf Edition
  • Yahtzee Free For All

For whatever it’s worth, I received the Millennium Falcon for Christmas when I was a kid – it was my very first Star Wars vehicle. I came close to buying it separately for myself, but couldn’t justify the expense (or figure out where to put it). My first LEGO kit was also a gift from Santa Claus.

I’ll also be using funds generated from this post to make further food bank deposits and donations to other charities. We’re all trying to make this a very Merry Christmas (Happy Holiday) for as many as possible.