Current News Feeds (Google News)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Etsy Hearts for Haiti Volunteers

Reflecting Back On January 2010

"10 Extraordinary Days"
by Sunny

AkureyriIceland, image courtesy CC GNU

At 9:55 PM on Jan. 13, 2010, a whirlwind of volunteer activity began the moment Etsy shop owner, Victoria Vanderlaan posted the question in the Forums, "Fundraising shop for Haiti?".  Immediately a group of women from the Etsy global arts and crafts community stepped forward to volunteer and began brainstorming an Etsy shop to raise funds for victims of the earthquake.  

Jan. 13 -Jan.15, The Volunteers ironed-out logistics, determined charity protocols, created shop policies, designed a logo and shop banner, opened Gmail, credit union, and PayPal accounts, joined 3 social networking sites, wrote a press release, and began compiling the list of donors.  

Jan. 16, 2010,1:08 AM, Day Four: the HFH shop opened. Donations poured in. Volunteers offered to work in shifts and began listing hundreds of donated items and images.

Jan. 16, 2010, Victoria posted: "The very tired Victoria here. I seriously love all of you guys right now. It's 4:30 am where I am and I've been going nonstop for days and I feel like I just want to keep going! But I'm going to have to go to bed, kiddos will be up in a few hours and the papa won't be content to be on his own for too long on a Saturday. I'm so proud of all of us for making this happen." 

Jan. 18, 2010, 2:00 AM, a Volunteer posted: "Night all! got my set of listings done-time to get some sleep so I can wake those kiddos up early tomorrow. better go set my coffee maker for the morning!!". It was now Day Five and HFH
had it's 100th sale and 170 items donated. 

The Volunteers were energized by the generous outpouring from the  Etsy Community, the touching messages that came with the donations, and they continued to be deeply concerned by devastating news reports from Haiti.  

The whole world was reeling from images from Port-au-Prince. Donations poured in faster than they could be listed. The Volunteers listed between cooking for their families, housework, jobs, school, Scout meetings, doctor's appointments, running their Etsy shops, and taking care of their children.   

One Volunteer posted in the Forum: "Hey guys, I'm working as fast as I can on those listings. I have to take breaks periodically to make sure my brain doesn't fry and that my family gets to eat! :)".   Another posted, "Good morning again, great night of listing...did anyone sleep?".   Another posted, "... It was a late to get"  Another Volunteer posted that she had to go to the doctor but that she would return to list items if she had the strength afterwards. In spite of a disability she powered through day after day keeping everyone in good spirits. The Volunteer's sense of humor and positivity kept the team moving forward.

The urgency of the medical situation in Haiti after the earthquake was pressing the Volunteers to get as many items listed as quickly as possible to help Doctors Without Borders. 100% of the proceeds were going directly to D.W.B. after Etsy and PayPal fees.

Jan. 22, 2010, Day Nine: Victoria sent the first $5,000.00 to Doctors Without Borders and provided a copy of the bank draft on the HFH blog.  

There were a few bumps-in-the-road during those first nine days. There was a tech problem with the Gmail account. There were some photo uploading problems. But everyone worked together to solve them quickly. There were weather problems for some Volunteers, such as power outages.  One Volunteer posted:  "Woke up to freezing rain! Frustrated-no mail will be going out today, so can't ship my item from the shop that sold :( And, no school either...might be a long day! Hope it's a great day for everyone else though-and again-you all are doing GREAT!!!".     

Jan. 23, 2010. Day Ten since Etsy HFH began. The group receives a profound email Update from Victoria.  It says:  

"When I wrote to you a few days ago I was really overwhelmed, coming off of nearly a week of long days devoted almost exclusively to the shop. But since then I’ve been able to step away occasionally during the day, shower and even—gasp!—leave the house.  Each day I step a little further away from the computer for a spell, and things are fine when I come back.  Though I can’t seem to stay away for long. :)."  

As I read her words I looked around me and realized how much house work had stacked up. I hadn't thought of much else but HFH. I had barely gone outside for a week. Likewise, the Volunteer from Australia posted, "Much to the delight of my two small dogs,I have spent a good part of the last week at home, on the couch, pretty much connected to my laptop." Everyone was focusing on one thing: helping Haiti.

Victoria's message continues, "I know you all have been working quite hard as well and I want to be sure that you all know that I only want to you to take on as much as you’d like to do and are comfortable with.  I realize that this project wasn’t a planned step we all took, it was something we threw ourselves into to help the people of Haiti in whatever way we can.  We all have things we dropped in order to make this happen and I know those things need to be picked up again sometime."  

On Jan. 23, 2010, ten days after Victoria posted, "Fundraising shop for Haiti?", HFH had raised $15,000.00 for Doctors Without Borders.  

It had been an extraordinary ten days that none of us who Volunteered behind the scenes will ever forget.  

It would not have been possible without the hundreds of Etsy community members who donated their shop items plus the shipping costs as well as the buyers.  They are the larger body of volunteers that make up the Etsy Hearts for Haiti Volunteer Team.

A certain type of person gives without expecting anything in return and they make this world a beautiful place for everyone. Each and everyone one of you who volunteered, donated, or bought from HFH are just such people.

Victoria concluded her message: "You are all my heros."  

And you are mine also.  

-Sunny  (Etsy Hearts For Haiti Blog Volunteer)


  1. Thanks Sunny, what a great article! It's amazing how far we have all come!

  2. Beautifully written Sunny! It is amazing-so much in such a short time-and so many many people who have been a part of it!

  3. Thanks, Sunny. I know I got the first items to list, but Victoria had to list something to activate the Paypal info!! That was a Friday midnight -- and we wanted the donations to be ready to sell on Saturday. That first night I went to bed at 6 AM!!!! I know for me, those first 10 days were non-stop in the shop. Listing, editing, fielding corrections and questions -- my shops on Etsy have not yet recovered, and I have made very little to add to them!

    But the joy in being able to contribute to such an incredible venture made every moment worth it. I'd be in the shop, and listening to the news, crying!