“What is something you’ve done purely out of the goodness of your heart but have not told anyone?”
When this question was posted on the popular website Reddit last month, a member who goes by the name “dartdoug” said that he once visited the website of One Simple Wish and donated a bike to a foster kid celebrating his birthday.
His foster family couldn’t afford to buy him one, so for less than $200, dartdoug paid for the kid’s new bike.
One Simple Wish is a non-profit organization specializing in giving foster kids things they wouldn’t ordinarily get. That particular member’s response about donating a bike sparked a movement among Redditors to give back by doing the same thing.
Users donated books, toys, electronics, and sneakers to hundreds of foster children, including those who have aged out of the system. The generosity that followed was so massive that it crashed One Simple Wish’s website.
The flood of donations fulfilled the wish that the organization’s founder, Danielle Gletow, 43, had made just days earlier. On June 19, she published a giving page on the website, asking the public to clear the wishes on the site.
The Redditor whose answer went viral hadn’t seen Danielle’s plea but found One Simple Wish through Charity Navigator. He was inspired to give after seeing a documentary about the struggles of young adults who age out of the foster care system.
The 11-year-old whose wish dartdoug granted was from his home state of New Jersey.
The night that dartdoug posted his answer had been a difficult night for Danielle, who cried herself to sleep after learning that her friend with ALS had just passed away.
That evening, she told her husband she was afraid she might no longer have the strength to meet the expectations of the people counting on her.
Danielle was completely heartbroken. When she woke up the following morning, her eyes were swollen from crying all night.
Then, on June 22, she was dumbfounded when hundreds of wishes on her site had been cleared seemingly all at once. Dozens of people also reached out to her, asking whether they could do more.
Her team found a Facebook comment linking to dartdoug’s post, which led them to the avalanche of posts on Reddit.
Some people recounted their experiences with the foster care system, while others called on the community to clear up all the wishes on the website.
And the community delivered, fulfilling all 222 wishes on the list!
Danielle said that visitors grant about 500 wishes in an average month, so this event was unusual. Over the next few weeks, the organization continued to receive $160,000 in donations.
Other people also offered to help her with tech support and marketing assistance. To Danielle, it felt like the universe was telling her that she and her kids will be okay.
Thanks in part to the news spreading, the website is now back up again with new wishes listed and more to come.
Danielle soon learned that there’s a name for what happened to her site.
“I don’t want to give him a ‘hug of death,’” Danielle said. “I want to give him and everyone who granted all of these wishes the longest hug ever.”
“I’m just blown away … the community is super supportive and kind,” she added. “I never thought Reddit was going to be the community … that would spark this much joy.”
This experience has given Danielle a renewed sense of hope for the youth they serve. She wants them to “have some sense of wonder and hope and childhood,” and that’s exactly what these Reddit users have given them.
If you want to grant wishes like these kindhearted Redditors, you may visit the One Simple Wish website.