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Mar 5 UPDATE: This order is proving a bit more laborious to expedite than our vendor had originally anticipated, so these boxes haven't been shipped out yet. Anyone who filled in a form should receive an email with tracking information as soon as their box is shipped. Anyone who didn't catch the email on time, please see this other post.


Jan 30 UPDATE: JNat just sent out emails to collect addresses — be on the lookout for those, and try to fill it in the next two weeks! :)

Did you receive any gifts that you'd appreciate a lot more if they were actually something that you could use, or even wanted? Do you still have some from the last few years? Don't feel bad, we've got you. Curious? Read on.

If you're reading this, there's a good chance that you've got, well, stuff. We've got stuff too, in fact, we have so much stuff that we really need to make room to order new stuff. And in order to do that, we need to give it away.

But we feel kinda bad about giving people that have an abundance of stuff even more stuff when there are so many folks out there that really need stuff, especially in colder climates right now. Our branded flashlights, keychains, stickers, mugs, mouse pads, aprons, and things of that sort are super cool, but they aren't things that charities can use directly without burning additional overhead.

That's where the stuff-a-way idea comes in. Here's how it works:

  1. You give stuff that you don't need to people that need it. That could mean dropping off some stuff to a charity, food bank, making a donation to a non-profit that can help people (if money is the thing you have too much of), handing a blanket and a cup of coffee to a homeless person, or whatever makes someone's life better than it was before you did your thing.
  2. You write an answer to this question and let us know that you did something and tell us about your random act of kindness. You can share as much or as little as you'd like; we're going to take your word for it. In your answer, tell us what sites in our network you like the most (we'll go by where you participate if you don't).
  3. We will send you a shoebox full of swag that you'll be sure to like. See what we did there? Everyone wins because:
    1. Those in need get stuff they can use immediately (things like mouse pads, aprons, pens, stickers, notebooks, and keychains aren't on that list, we're sure).
    2. You get rid of stuff you don't need. We empty our warehouse for the most part to make room for all new stuff. Your sweat equity is getting out to do something nice, our's is handling all the shipping of the goodies.
    3. You get stuff you want, in the form of a loot-box style package from us.

If you'd rather not receive anything, just say so. This event is structured so that we make sure giving is all about what the recipients actually need and the warm feelings from it come secondary (which is why we don't just bulk-donate thousands of dollars worth of stuff); beyond that, we're cool with whatever terms you like.

The rules

  1. Any user of MSE in good standing is eligible, including employees, but only one entry per person is allowed. Likewise, prizes are limited to one per participant.

  2. You must ensure that your email address associated with your account is current and verified by our system to receive your box. Not hearing back from folks is a big problem for this kind of event, so make sure the email associated with your account works, and is one that you check at least semi-frequently.

  3. To participate, you must make some kind of needed donation to a person or charitable organization in need of what you have. Canned food for a food bank? Good. Old laptops for any educational purpose? Good. A bag of fast food for a homeless person? Good. We trust that you will do good things and not require adult supervision, please prove us correct there. Also, homeless shelters need socks, sanitary pads, diapers, etc - a little research in your area can go a long way.

  4. Sweat equity is accepted as a donation (in which you go volunteer your time somewhere that meets the spirit of this event). Again, we trust that you'll make us proud of you.

  5. This event will remain open until it's very likely that we're just about out of stuff to send. That could be a month, a week, or whatever. It's hard to say with these types of events.

  6. Oh yes, the prizes! Boxes will include multiple things consisting of pens, sharpies, stickers, drink holders, aprons, battery packs, flashlights, mugs, mouse pads, staplers and other office supplies, games, shirts, hats and other items branded Stack Overflow or after other Stack Exchange websites. Some items will also include rarer prizes like hoodies, other branded outerwear and bags, books, and other surprise items.

  7. While we'll ask for your preferences, we can't guarantee what's going to be in any given box. It's a mystery, but it will be cool stuff!

  8. Our code of conduct applies to any and all activity related to this event.

Now, head to those closets, attics, or those boxes that might be under a pile of more appreciated gifts and help everyone get something that they want and need at the end of the holiday season this year.

While we hope to be able to do this again in the future, it'll depend on what we've got laying around. If any of our customers signal that they want to throw in some stuff to sweeten the communal pot luck, we'll update the post (I honestly haven't talked to anyone about this yet, kinda winging it, so check back occasionally for updates).

Commence the stuff-a-way! And, enjoy being good to your fellow living creatures that could use a little help right now.

Thank you, everyone!

The stories you've shared are full of great examples that we hope will inspire others to adopt new and creative ways of giving to those that need some help. From reminding all of us that donating blood can literally save lives, to ideas surrounding creative kits that contain essential supplies and some gift cards, you've given lots of folks great ideas and been an inspiration. This was an experiment, and because of you, it was a resounding success!

We'll be reaching out soon (really, allow the full 6 to 8 weeks here as this is a huge effort) and getting everyone that wants one their boxes of goodies. We'll very likely do something similar to this as part of Stack Exchange Gives Back next year, so stay tuned, and thanks again to everyone that participated!

  • 6
    Gifts, This year? No. ;) – MEE - Reinstate Monica Jan 2 at 19:47
  • 32
    I like how this event lets the community be a part of Stack giving Back. <3 – EKons Jan 2 at 19:48
  • 6
    @MEE I thought of inventing a time machine and finding out where you live just to go back in time and give you something yesterday, but editing the post seemed easier. Fixed. – Tim Post Jan 2 at 19:59
  • 36
    What a great idea! Does stuff we gave away in the few days before this meta post count too, or does it need to be in response to this meta post? – Monica Cellio Jan 2 at 20:43
  • 10
    This is a 2018 Stuff-A-Way, so did the act of charity have to be done last year? – Caleb Kleveter Jan 2 at 21:02
  • 8
    Best. Thing. Ever. But, why tag it as winter bash? – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jan 2 at 22:03
  • 11
    I don't like this. Charity isn't something that needs to be rewarded. – Avnish Kabaj Jan 3 at 4:50
  • 9
    @AvnishKabaj: You can do charity without it being physically rewarded. This is just a way to promote even more charitable acts. (To some degree, all charity that people do is done for the "reward" of feeling good about yourself.) – V2Blast Jan 3 at 5:44
  • 7
    @AvnishKabaj agree if we would have been given money for this. But SE swag is just pure fun, so best way to encourage us to do good things. :) – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jan 3 at 7:14
  • 17
    @AnkitSharma Any recent event is fine. There's no hard 'cutoff' other than your own instinct; if it's fresh enough to feel relevant for you, it's probably fine. In the very unlikely event that someone posts something that isn't in good faith we'll deal with it, but we won't let the possibility of someone doing that complicate things needlessly for others, if that makes sense. – Tim Post Jan 3 at 14:02
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    When will we get the emails again? – Charalampos Fanoulis Jan 5 at 19:30
  • 9
    @AgiHammerthief Isn't the whole point of charity to help people? Maybe there's merit in being humble, but the real core purpose of charity is helping people in need; telling people about it doesn't make the beneficiary benefit any less. – Ian Jan 8 at 15:44
  • 8
    I agree, @Ian. And in particular, telling others about one's efforts to give back, when encouraged to share such stories, hardly makes a user sharing such a story any less humble than one who decides not to do so. Indeed, sharing "good news" helps counter the incessant exposure to crimes and warfare and human misery, and in this way, helps folks to be inspired to contribute, rather than concluding there's no point in any thing, anyway. – Namaste Jan 8 at 22:44
  • 4
    @AgiHammerthief It depends on the context - if one is not being self-promoting ("Look at me; I'm so great..."), but rather sharing in joy, then perhaps it is right to share our joys with one another, just as we bear one another's burdens... "Joy shared is doubled; pain shared is halved." – user3.1415927 Jan 9 at 4:06
  • 7
    @Ian Nothing yet. I'm in the US. – Mooseman Feb 26 at 15:48

252 Answers 252

1

Now this is the kind of thing that gets me excited about SE :) Not the free swag part, although that's cool, but seeing positivity and goodwill.

I've been volunteering at 2 ferret shelters in the Chicago area for over a year, once a week, an hour's drive each way. On top of that I have my own 9 ferrets to take care of. My recent adoptions have all been sick or unwanted ferrets (who had been at the shelter for over a year). It's a ton of work and heartbreak (I had 12, lost 3 in October, still not over it), and I've basically stopped traveling or having a social life.

The 2nd shelter is much smaller and basically run by one amazing woman and her regular helper. Her helper has had the flu so she's been by herself lately so I've made sure to visit twice in the last week to help her out.

And I recently donated to the Prairie Wildlife Research organization which is dedicated to the preservation of prairie wildlife species, especially the endangered black-footed ferret. I made a $500 donation which was matched by my company, and then 3x matched by a federal grant! Felt pretty amazing to see them hit their $18k goal and I helped with almost a quarter of it! Unless that was a pre-grant goal in which case I merely helped with 1/18th :p

My favorite sites are Sci Fi / Fantasy and Worldbuilding

1

I explained to my kids that many children don't get presents on Christmas because they don't have a home and so Santa cannot find them; and that it would be great if we took all those toys that we didn't use anymore and gave them to those children so they could have presents too.
So we as a family spent a whole evening sorting through old toys, throwing away the broken ones and putting the rest in a huge box that I later took to our local Red Cross. My kids were thrilled to find old toys that they thought lost, but still understood that other children would make better use of them. Proud parent!

We also did the usual giving to local charities. On holidays they have stands inside most supermarkets, so you just have to buy some additional items and give them to the people in the stand before walking out. However instead of lentils or rice, which is what most people give, we donated some infant formula because we know what it is to have a baby not adapt to breastfeeding. It's not much but it's honest work!

1

In my daily commute, I have to walk quite a bit. During these walks I don't like to use main streets, as they are crowded with people rushing to work.

In these back alleys there are some nice, covered areas where quite often homeless people lay to rest, mostly sheltered from rain and wind.

When I have any cash money on me, and see these people, I tend to give them all of it, which ranges from a few euros, to several tens of. As I personally don't tend to use cash money either way.

1

I have recently started volunteering my free time via the Royal Statistics Society to a help a couple of charitable causes with some of their data analysis - it's a good opportunity to help out smaller charities that don't necessarily have the statistical or analytical capability to deal with their data.

Shameless promotion - if there are any other statisticians/data scientists/data analysts who want to help out:

http://www.rss.org.uk/RSS/Get_involved/Statisticians_for_Society/RSS/Get_involved/Statisticians_for_Society.aspx?hkey=c7977c58-1558-495a-9e5a-e99d64ea9cfd

I'm also a charity runner, running 10K's, half and full marathons for donations.

I primarily use stack overflow (but I also love PPCG (code golf) and depend on cross validated quite a lot).

1

It's a minor thing, but before Christmas I donated some gently used toys to Goodwill, and some gently used clothes to our church. Though you've reminded me that I need to get some things together for their monthly pantry requests.

1

We work with the Eagle Academy in Lone Tree, Colorado. This is a high school that caters to homeless/neglected kids. The school provides meals for the kids Monday-Fridays, but often these kids go hungry over the weekends. Our organization donates food and assembles 70 food packets a week for students on to take home on the weekends so they have something to eat. This is a great program as we have involved the local Scout troop to help with donations and assembling the packets. (We assembled 70 of them last night for distribution this weekend.) It helps the kids at Eagle Academy and lets the boy in the troop see how they can help kids their own age who aren't as fortunate as they are.

Favorite Stack Exchange sites:

Stack Overflow

Physics Stake Exchange

1

Like a lot companies, we do Secret Santa in our office. This year we also did a Xmas bake off, which a lot of people participated in. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you are) we did it on a Friday so at the end of the day we still had A LOT of cakes, flapjacks, brownies etc. left over. Instead of leaving them over the weekend and having to probably get rid of a lot of them due to the going stale, we took all of the leftovers down to the local Salvation Army.

We also took round a bunch of presents to the same Salvation Army place earlier in the week (for people who didn't want to do secret santa), so they weren't expecting to see us again that week! Needless to say they were very thankful.

I primarily contribute to good ol' Stackoverflow.

1

Starting from last year, I have a new tradition with my family.

In Mexico, we have this tradition called "Wizard Kings Day" (Día de Reyes / Día de los Reyes Magos). It's always on January 5th to January 6th. In Mexico, we don't believe in Santa Claus but we do believe in the Wizard Kings. They are the ones that give presents to kids while they're sleeping... but, what's with homeless kids? They can't feel that "magic", and so, my family and I have started this new tradition to go outside on January 5th and do the following:

  • Give the kids a brand new toy that doesn't require batteries
  • Give a bag with food to their parents
  • Give them all a sandwich and a bottle of water (2L)

Why did we start last year? Because it's when I got a better salary and so, my end-year bonus was higher, and it allowed me to use it to buy those things above mentioned.

This year we made happier to 30 kids and their families allowing them to eat something fresh, nutritive and a warm hug at least for one day.

I will teach this to my kids when I have them

I primarily contribute to Stack Overflow but I do read a lot of questions in Japanese Language, Game Development and Apple StackExchange

1

Hospital patients are often accompanied by family members who stay with them for many hours. While the hospitals provide their patients with food, they obviously can't provide food for those accompanying them.

Therefore, there is an organization in which volunteers prepare nice warm meals and freeze them, and those meals are distributed to the various hospitals, warmed up, and offered to the family members or friends or caregivers accompanying the patients.

Our family donates 4 meals a month to that cause. Each meal we make has chicken and 2 side dishes. Yesterday was pickup day, so that's the donation relevant to this question.


My favorite sites are StackOverflow, WPSE and Mi Yodea. I'd appreciate any combination of the following: flashlight(s), apron, mouse pad, stickers :)

1

My place of work do a bake off this time of year where 20+ people bake different sweet an savoury snacks which are then available to purchase for the rest of the 130+ workforce. This year I made coffee, chocolate and caramel cupcakes, which went down a treat, and in total, we raised over £500 for a local children's charity.

We also regularly do other fundraisers, with the office donating large amounts of food/toiletries/cosmetics/office supplies to local charities and schools.

I am part of the web development team, and as such, spend a lot of my time on Stack Overflow!

0

I am donating my second flat iron, a mop and some other household / kids stuff for free via a german sharing platform.

0

I regularly donate old clothes.

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