Offering Care Packages on Craigslist

Monday afternoon, I posted an ad on Craigslist NYC’s “Free” page, offering care packages of unused, unopened, full-size toiletries and personal items that food stamps don’t cover. I asked for a little info about them and their situation so I could put together a very suitable package.

Believe it or not, I’m very skeptical, and quite a few of the replies I got set off little warning bells. I can’t tell if I’m just being a paranoid Manhattanite or what, so here are the replies I got that I’m deciding amongst … I’ll probably update this post later tonight with more responses, so feel free to check back. I’ll be taking the post down soon – I don’t want to find myself with 25 deserving people/families and only enough for 4. Anyway, those labeled in Green are YES, Red are NO, and Orange are UNDECIDED.

Candidate A
“I am interesting the item I am a female 34 years old with 3 teenages age daughters .and one eldest son.”
I was quite excited about this one until I scrolled down and saw that it was sent from a T-Mobile Sidekick. I’ll probably give to her anyway because I totally get the need to be reachable when you have 4 teenagers, and T-Mobile is the cheapest service available.

Candidate B
I am interested in your unused care package. I am a mother of 2 boys 15 and 16 years old and could really use your products. please call me @ xxxxxxxx”.
Short but workable. She’s got a decent shot.

Candidate C
“Before I tell you about myself I’d like to say this is a generous thing you are doing for people. Even if you dont give me a package I just want you to know GOD will bless you, if he hasn’t already. I’m 20, female, I live with my mother who’s 47. When you say background what would you like to know?”
I’m willing to overlook the god thing. This one will probably make the list, but might not get one immediately depending on my supplies.

Candidate D
“i can come pick up tonight if you still have.”
Judging from the name, the person is female – but she gave no information about her situation, e.g. does she have a family, is she of an age to need feminine products? Judging from her writing, her English is pretty good, so she must understand my request for basic details. Perhaps she’s just trolling for anything she can get for free? I’m not answering.

Candidate E
“Hi:  I’d be interested in one… I currently live in the 30th Street shelter.. I am 39, male, 5ft 11…  It’s just me.  I definitely would appreciate the band-aids and excedrin… and everything you can spare.”
Well, shelters always specify “trial size items” when asking for donations, so I’m not sure what, if anything, to do with this one. First, the mention of height made me laugh – like, has this homeless man been hanging out on dating sites?? In any case, I’m a little confused and perhaps intrigued by someone living in a shelter who didn’t make a single spelling or grammar mistake, and left two spaces after the colon and the period.

Candidate F
“Married couple can us the products can I provide a UPS number for pick up no cost to you”
Um…how do you have access to a UPS account? Why are you looking on the NYC Free page if you’re not in NYC?

Candidate G
“I am a 42yo male, out of work for almost a year, and could use a care package.”
The simplicity of this makes me think that it was hard for him to ask. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it though. Hmm.
Decision made: yes.

Candidate H
“Are these care packages still available? We could use these at my non profit for the clients. Please let me know ok.”
Well, I like doing things my way rather than through a middleman, but I might keep her details handy – despite the collection of cheesy quotes in her auto-signature.

Candidate J
“Hi im a 25 yr old single mother and these things would really come in handy for me”
I mentioned in my post that I don’t have baby items, but I have a soft spot for single moms – not for any personal reasons, but most of the ones I’ve met do everything for their kids and nothing for themselves. I’d like to give her some things for herself because cheap crap from the dollar store often gives dandruff or just doesn’t clean.

Candidate K
“If this is a real offer I am in serious need of some help. I’m 21, female, and really broke. I’m working three jobs and can’t make my rent let alone buy toiletries. Please email me if you can help me.”
Yup, you’ve got it sweetheart. I worked 3-4 jobs my last two years in college, so I do indeed have a very personal soft spot for someone who works their butt off to maintain some independence. And who knows what her options are? I’d rather give her things than see her go to the dark side to make rent and keep her teeth clean.
Update:  Will be meeting her tomorrow. We were supposed to meet up this morning, but one of her jobs is overnight infant care, and the baby was sick. Mm, I do not miss my graveyard shift days.

Any thoughts? Which would you accept, which would you decline? Help!

16 Responses

  1. Hm, if you only have enough for a 4th (I see 3 greens already), I would either pick B or G for this first round.

  2. Well, how many emails I can say yes to kind of depends on how many people are in the household. So you can’t really go by that somewhat random number, especially since I’ve picked a few solo folks.

  3. Maybe you should just set the items in front of a dumpster. I think you might find a truly needy person there.

    • Nah, too many crazyies who would just pick up a bottle of shampoo and put it in their bags of weird collected-from-litterbins possessions and never use it. Not kidding, unfortunately.

  4. So many excellent candidates. I’m surprised that most of the emails you received sound pretty normal. I’d be scared of some of the crazies a posting in NYC’s Craigslist would produce. From what’s left in orange I would say go with B or C.

  5. I used to work for a homeless shelter. I can’t tell you how many college grads we had in there (referring to Mr. Good Grammar). Crazy!

    I dunno who I’d vote for in this case. Either way, KERMIT THE FROG will bless you!

    • I do love your comments, CF.
      The homeless man with good grammar impressed me as somewhat gentle and quiet – dare I say ill-equipped to deal with NYC?

  6. I also vote for the guy in the homeless shelter. I am a prosecutor who works in Drug Court in my community – it was a real eye opener when I relaized homelessness and drug abuse reaches all segments of our society. You are right to think it took a lot for him to ask for a handout.

    • Every time I do something a little wacky like this, I learn so much about humanity in general. There’s nothing like putting a face to the phenomenon (homelessness, single motherhood, kids recovering from incest, etc).

  7. and my spelling was not perfect. 🙂 oops

  8. Oh my, such choices! You, of course, donate far more than I do. But I like not knowing where my overload is going as I don’t wany my opinions confused with my charity. Mostly I just give the excess to my (struggling) hairdresser to distribute as she sees fit. She lives in a mobile park and knows many people there that need help. These people may or may not have access to a computer. I am firmly starting to believe that wherever it ends up is where it was meant to be. But I love all your efforts!!

  9. Wow it is a wonderful thing you are doing. I am going to have to go thru my stock pile tonight and donate more.

  10. When I am on my feet again. I am going to do this. I love the idea. I love that you were so thoughtful. When I was able to get items free or cheap I would donate them to the rescue mission. Now I am a struggling single mom, but I will get on my feet again. Thank you for doing this! I am in awe.

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