Couple posts ad offering Christmas help to struggling families, is inundated by responses

Dec 4 2020, 7:43 pm

A Surrey family is now fundraising to help 24 families in need this Christmas after receiving an overwhelming response to their Craigslist ad offering to provide gifts for those who are struggling.

Joanna Asia Zakowski and her husband decided this year to forego gifts for each other and instead spend the money buying items for one or two families experiencing hardship.

She posted an ad in Craigslist’s free section with her offer, and was soon inundated with messages from families explaining what they’re going through.

“I closed out of my emails and I started sobbing uncontrollably,” she said. “People sent in pictures of their families and all of these pretty private personal details. They’re all just coming so humbly.”

Zakowski knew she couldn’t just pick one or two. She wanted to help all 24 families who wrote to her.

But only Zakowski’s husband works while she homeschools their two children, and she knew they couldn’t provide for everyone who asked.

So she started a GoFundMe to raise a few hundred dollars for every family to provide them with basic necessities or things to brighten their children’s Christmas.

The recipients include single mothers, a family who lost a parent during the pandemic, a couple who live in a house with no heat, and another couple staying in a makeshift shelter on undeveloped land.

Zakowski’s fundraiser has so far gathered $6,000 of its $10,000 goal.

She plans to use the money for gift cards for every family, since putting together a hamper of items for 24 families may not be COVID-19-safe, she said.

“Feel very blessed that I was able to do this,” she said, adding she’s getting ready for the logistical task of co-ordinating all the gifts later this month.