I’ve been feeling the urge to do something nice for someone, seeing as it’s Christmas (because it’s banned all other times of the year, obviously). So I headed to the city’s most comprehensive guide for volunteering, New York Cares, and came across Winter Wishes.

Every year, the program gathers thousands of presents from donors for children who might not otherwise get a gift – because they’re in state care or because their family simply cannot afford it. So each year, community groups, religious centers and children’s homes help kids pen letters to strangers, asking for a gift. Volunteers then go to the website, say how many children’s letters they want to receive and wait.

Sadly, I waited quite a while for my letter which meant that, when it finally arrived, the date they needed the gift by had already passed. The letter was so cute though – big, misspelled words inside a scrawled heart with a request for a doll’s kitchen set. Signed from a nine-year-old girl, Terry Cheryl.


When I popped the kitchen set into Amazon, my jaw dropped. It was going to cost $130 – far above the recommended gift value of $40. I called her church for some tips on what else to get her, but received no answer, which meant one thing: To the shops!

The lovely Meghan (who really saved my ass on this whole thing, to be honest) suggested heading to a toy shop, Kidding Around, on 15th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue. The shop is cute and, while it’s not huge, it somehow covers every base from newborns to teens.

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My favorite!

My old favorite!

There were a fair few kitchen sets, but they all just seemed so young for a nine-year-old – and I realized I had no idea what is age appropriate! But after some intense googling, I found one better for bigger kids that can actually be used in real life, too. Then, for an extra treat, I picked her up a friendship bracelet kit – which child doesn’t love those?!

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After gift wrapping, penning a Christmas card and a trip to the post office, the gift was on its way to Brooklyn and to the little girl. I hope she likes it.

It’s a shame I didn’t get the letter sooner, especially as I needed extra time to search stores. But this really is a fantastic idea, and I’d encourage checking out other festive volunteering opportunities on their website. And there are still some gifts needed for kids that you can buy directly from the charity’s Amazon wish list.

Happy Christmas Terry!

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