Gift Card Winners! - New York Times Bestselling Author, J. Sterling

Gift Card Winners!

First of all, I have to say a big fat WOW! to each and every one of you who wrote about the charity you would start and shared so many personal and amazing stories. You blow my mind daily and this was no exception.


I am humbled to be surrounded by such beautiful, giving and open hearted people. You are all so incredible in your thoughts of others and what you would like to do (not to mention the hardships, loss and trauma that some of you have been through. Hugs to each of you).

You also helped open my eyes to ALL the people in need out there- in so many different ways. We're only exposed to what we see in and around us, or by what we know or have been through ourselves... and there is so much more out there. SO MUCH.

So, thank you for that. 

It was really, really difficult to choose the "winners" because every single post was so incredible and kind. But I had to choose 10, so here they are.

If you see your name and your post on here, please make sure you send me an email at jenn (at) jennster (dot) com so I can mail out your gift card.

Thank you again for being such beautiful spirits and for sharing that energy with all of us. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and I hope that together we can make a difference.

Laura Gadbois
If I could start a charity, I would start one to help people like my husband that are suffering for severe memory loss, hearing loss, and mood swings. He was deployed for the third time this last year to Afghanistan and was his vehicle was hit by an RPG and while no one had severe physical injuries the blast caused most of the to come back with TBI (traumatic brain injury). These soldiers are not getting the help they need to deal with this, they usually also suffer from PTSD as well and are just tucked away. It takes forever to get appointments, and vets wait months to see anyone for evaluation, it's unfair. I would like to see soldiers have more places they can go without having pay and get prompt service and assistance.
as a rape survivor and a cosmetologist, I would start a charity that shows women who have been through sexual assault, that its ok to still want to be feminine and feel attractive. They can't take that too. After my rape, as many women do, I took to wearing clothes that were way to big for me, never did my hair anymore or my makeup. I tried to be invisible. I randomly met a woman who changed my life. She made me realize that just because I was a victim of sexual assault didn't mean that I had to hide my femininty. I think it is very important for women to know this
I would start a charity for single parent women like me. Women who are disabled and cannot work, and for some reason, they find themselves without medical insurance or an income. It is is so hard to stay healthy enough to take care of your children when you have no medical insurance, but to not be able to afford the basic things in life one needs to survive and keep your children healthy--things people take for granted like toilet paper, laundry detergent, bathroom supplies, personal care items, dish detergent, sock and underwear which are all things food stamps do NOT buy. I have food stamps, but no monetary income what-so-ever. People do not realize food stamps funds do not allow you to buy anything but food. There are a lot of women like me that need help, not just during the holidays, but all year round. Than goodness I don't have a vehicle, because I could not put gas in it or afford insurance. I don't even have a license anymore because I had no money to renew it. Women like me need some to help them get back on their feet again. I have given clothes that do not fit our family anymore that are in excellent condition to many families like mine. I know where they are and what they are going through, because I am there, too.
Tiffani H
I would want to start a charity that helped people pay for health care for their animals. My charity would assist families with a financial need when faced with emergency vet bills. Having worked as a veterinary technician for 10 years, I saw many cases in which an animal was put to sleep simply because the owners had to choose between feeding their family or taking care of the family pet. Most pets are like family members. They help reduce stress and lessen some of the symptoms of depression. Yes, the price of vet care is high, but most vets are not in the profession for the money. They want to help these animals, but can't offer free services to everyone or they will go under. I have seen it happen to veterinarians who's hearts were in the right place. Every animal deserves a chance
If I started one I think it would be one for children dealing with parents who have a terminal illness.
My mom passed away from cancer when I was 10, and I really had no way of dealing with it, aside from my family or seeing the school counselor. If there was a program (which I do know of now), when I was young, where I could maybe be around other kids who were dealing with the same issues as myself - that would have been great.
Like some kind of camp - where the kids can spend the week just being 'normal' kids... and forget about all the real world problems in their lives. But it could also be a place to talk about their loved ones and hopefully start to heal.
Also - the charity could help these families at Christmas time. I cannot tell you how many years we had nothing at Christmas time, due to the medical bills. It definitely made me realize the importance of family during the holiday season and not the commercial aspect of it all, which I'm so grateful for!
One year the hospital adopted our family for Christmas and we got loads and loads of gifts, it was such an unexpected treat (especially since Santa brought them all to us Christmas morning). It's the one Christmas that I will never forget (especially since my mom was able to come home for it, if only for a few days).
My charity would to carry on a family tradition and hopefully bring smiles to everyone young and old. It would be called "Blow Out Your Candles...Wish big". Birthdays are a BIG deal in our family as everyone deserves to be celebrated and not a birthday goes by without a cake. Everyone deserves a cake. My charity would be to supply birthday cakes for those young and old that either don't have family to celebrate with them or for those families that cant afford it a cake. Cakes would be decorated for all ages, and special requests (Minnie mouse, Minion, Elmo, etc) would be welcomed. I know cakes for a birthday doesn't seem like a big deal but cakes go hand in hand with birthdays and everyone deserves to feel special on their day and hopefully their big wishes come true and a smile is put on their face :)
I would start a charity to help anyone who finds themselves homeless or in a permanent 'lay off' situation. Living in an area that is ranked in the top 10 poorest areas in the country - I have seen first hand what job loss can do to families. The 'middle class' usually is overlooked when trying to find an agency to get help from. Helping these families with the cost of medications, clothing, food....anything that could help during their hardship.
If I could start a charity it would be to build playgrounds specifically for kids with disabilities. Our city alone has several playgrounds but only one is handicap accessible. I know we (our city) is lucky to even have that. There are many cities and towns out there that are lucky to even have one regular playground.

I would start a transportation program for patients that need to get to their doctor and hospital appointments. I work for a physician and it saddens me when our elderly patients (or any patient) has to cancel because they don't have a ride. A lot of our patients have major health conditions, and it breaks my heart knowing that they want to take care of themselves, but are restricted due to not being able to drive or not having a vehicle.

I've always had one dream and it would be called "Housing for Wheelchair-Bound Families" and the rent would go according to their income.
Ever since I broke my neck and became disabled myself with a nine-month-old daughter it has always been so hard to find housing that would accept my daughter, also there wasn't enough room for her and my caregiver.
We need housing that is large enough for the person in the wheelchair and their families. Usually they have apartments that are only one bedroom and sometimes two bedrooms. And then most of them aren't totally equipped for people in wheelchairs that aren't able to get to the sink, stove, cabinets and bathroom facilities large enough that have showers large enough for wheelchairs, toilets that are put in for lower or higher wheelchairs so that the people are able to be able to use them easily. You would be amazed at how many accidents happen just because they are too low or too high. Doorways and hallways that are wide enough for any size wheelchair and rounded corners for us to be able to get through them without banging our wheelchairs into the sides of the corners without moving back and forth a few times just to be able to get into the doorways to the bedrooms or bathrooms without banging the feet of the wheelchair or scraping your arms or hands on them. Spacious rooms because they are never large enough with the apartments here. Washers and dryers so that they don't have to go out in the snow to use a community laundry room. It's their home. They need to feel at home with their families with them.
I would love to have a playground for children in wheelchairs and for children who are not. Children need to learn at an early age about other people with disabilities and this would be a perfect introduction. I would have barbecues twice a month for the spring, summer and early fall months for everyone who lives there so that they can meet the other families, friends and extended family members.
There would be one community room divided into two parts. One half would be for people with disabilities meetings/parties and any other functions where families can attend even with the extended family members and friends. We all need our families and friends to help us through our good and bad times and to be included in our lives. The other half be a recreational area with exercise equipment, pool table, foosball table, a couple pinball machines and other games for adults and kids. Just some place for them to go to relax and have fun.
From one disabled person in a wheelchair with family to share my dream with other people in wheelchairs.


  1. Anonymous1:34 PM

    All of these brought tears to my eyes...prayers to all of you that have to suffer with past trauma physical or mental ...and those struggling with daily life....very nice idea jenn it totally opens your eyes to the sad and tough part of life. What's depressing is ththat the lack of moneycan ruin your life. :(

  2. These are awesome. Congratulations everyone! <3

  3. These are all amazing idea's and I wish everybody the best. Lindsey your story stuck out to me because I am a sexual assault advocate. Rape stays with someone for the rest of their lives and it is so important for survivors to gain back the control that was taken from them. Good for you and your charity, remember you are a survivor and good for you for helping other women believe they are survivors.

  4. Congrats, everyone!

  5. OMG. I am crying! Thank you so much! I can buy my three children some much needed socks and underwear for Christmas! Bless you! Bless all of you with caring hearts! Give back when you can, but do not be afraid to ask for help when needed. I may not have much, but I share what I have, because someone is always worse off than my family.
    Congratulations to all the winners and to all those that want to help others!