Thursday, January 6, 2011

Raging Success: The Michael & Wagner Kovac Christmas Gift Drive

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house … were boxes from Bed, Bath & Beyond. There was bubble wrap and packing slips and wrapping paper and handmade cards with messages such as, “Marry Chirstmas [sic]” from kids in Ohio—all evidence that a lot of people had donated to the Michael and Wagner Kovac Christmas Gift Drive--over $1500 in gift cards and blankets and socks like these from BB&B, all Christmas presents for cancer patients at the Moffitt Center in Tampa, Florida, with some gift baskets for the doctors and nurses who care for them.  

My niece (with help from her parents and siblings) wrapped forty-nine socks-and-blankets tote bag combos. Armed with $200 in gift cards and $50 in coupons, she made three trips to BB&B to pick out treats and sweets for the staff on 5th Floor North Side of Moffitt. The final gift card balance was $1.67.

It took nine people to carry all the bags and baskets to the 5th Floor North Side. The Michael and Wagner Kovac Christmas Gift Drive was among other gift drives that handed out presents to cancer patients on the morning of Christmas Eve, but the only one that also brought thank-you gifts for medical staff and caregivers.

In addition to fuzzy socks and cozy blankets and honey roasted peanuts, each gift came with a letter explaining why people from as far away as San Francisco and Italy thought that cancer patients should have fuzzy socks, cozy blankets, and honey roasted peanuts. Be sure to check it out here.

My sister-in-law (who—and I have this on good authority—has an entire wing in Heaven dedicated to her) wears many hats: wise and thoughtful person, wife, mother, chauffeur, Chex-mix Chef Extraordinaire and now, slide-show documentarian. She put together this youtube video so you can get a taste of how the gift drive turned out. Check this out, too. It’s really cool and it thanks all our donors at the end.

I am proud to be her sister-in-law and grateful for all her hard work. I am proud of my awesome niece and grateful for her shrewd eye for bargains and excellent math skills and wiliness to follow-through on the vision. I am proud that so many wonderful friends and family members donated to our cause and I am grateful for their contributions. You guys rock! Especially Jimmy Valdes and Heather Larrick who between the two of them, accounted for nearly half of all the tote bags purchased. I am also grateful to my friend and fellow micro-preemie Mom, Kat whose own gift drive (the Loki Sky's Holiday Gift Drive for Alta Bates NICUgave me the idea in the first place.

I know December is a crazy month for everyone. Many of you emailed me to say that you supported our cause and wanted to contribute. It’s not too late. Yes, there’s always next year, but you can also give back in a comment here to my sister-in-law CJ and my niece GJ thanking them for making it happen. Without them, this gift drive would have been nothing more than a blog post.

Tote bags with blankets and socks from Bed, Bath & Beyond
(They're now $3 cheaper than they were in Dec.  
Should we stock up for next year?)

UPS was busy

all the little touches

just a sampling

with the gifts for staff

all the loot


  1. What an amazing achievement, CJ, GJ, and J9! That was a huge endeavor and thanks for including the staff. What a wonderful way to honor MK and wish him good health. Thanks to each person who contributed. Your generosity and kindness are what keep many in good spirits, knowing others care about them.

  2. Hi and have a blessed days ahead