Emergency Toy Drive – Late Sunday Update #PGHSavesXmas

I have never loved Pittsburgh more.  Today, and really all weekend – I’ve seen the best of what Pittsburgh has to offer.  And, I didn’t even have time to watch the Steeler game.

Less than 60 hours ago – I put out a call for help on Facebook.  And Pittsburgh – you have stepped up in ways I could have never imagined.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  We aren’t done yet – but I want to tell you what the volunteers accomplished today.

First of all – THANK YOU to everyone who has donated, volunteered and spread the word.  You have made it possible to literally move mountains of toys.

On Saturday at Noon – I spoke with the woman from the East Hills Residents Community Council.  They had basically canceled the holiday party because they had nothing to distribute.  We immediately went to work and moved a truck load of toys from West Virginia into their community center yesterday.  On Saturday night, we put out a call for volunteers – and strangers responded.  I arrived at the East Hills Community Center at noon today – and volunteers – people I have never met, but who had read about the need on Facebook had already begun to sort and inventory.

It took 14 hours, multiple trips to the store, two deliveries of pizza and at least 30 volunteers but I am pleased to report we have completely filled the need in East Hills! Here is what was done today…

  • Prepared toy packages for 275 families – over 575 kids
  • Prepared stocking for all of the kids
  • Prepared gifts for 30 more kids who are part of the Martial Arts Against Street Violence program

The volunteers who showed up at 11 am – stayed until 1am – that is 14 hours of non-stop work.  And these were volunteers from all over the city AND a whole crew of volunteers from the Residents Council who started at 9am.

This was made possible by you – the generous people of Pittsburgh.

There is still more work to be done.  We found out Sunday morning that there are 500 kids on the North Side who need gifts.  I know that we had a whole crew working on this over at Most Wanted Fine Art but we WILL NEED MORE HELP on Monday!!!

Please see the latest posts in the Emergency Toy Drive Facebook Group.   We will definitely need more toy donations.  So keep those coming.

If you are buying toys to donate:

  • craft kits are great
  • games are great because they are good items to share with families – I’m pretty sure we bought every Jenga near East Hills.
  • don’t buy toys that require batteries
  • don’t wrap the toys before you donate them

If you know of someone who would be willing to donate food or pizza for their holiday party on Tuesday – that would be a welcome addition and I can help to coordinate.  Please contact me lindsay@iheartpgh.com.

Here are a few photos from today:

A brief note about East Hills – this is a Pittsburgh neighborhood that is in need – and there is so much help that is needed there.  I hope this is the beginning of a much larger relationship and I ask you to help me tell and share the stories of our fellow neighbors who are often not part of the larger Pittsburgh conversation.  I can tell you right now that there are kids that need beds out there – and I’ve promised to follow up with the East Hills Residence Council about this in January – if you want to help (or if you have a bed you don’t need) – please let me know.

Emergency Toy Drive – How You Can Help


Update Sunday 12/21 8pm:

We still need your help.  This am we identified 500 more kids that need toys.

Here is how you can help:

Donations will also be accepted at Most Wanted Fine Art at the Waterfrontfrom 12-5 PM (They are opening just for this so disregard the website.)

Volunteers needed in Garfield 11-4 to help sort & distribute.

Drivers needed to be on-call during these hours. At least one trip from Waterfront to Garfield around 5 PM.

Donations Most Needed At This Point

– Toys & Gifts for Kids Ages 6-12, all types. We are very low and have to serve over 300 kids in this age range.
– Gift bags for our craft kits from Creative Reuse. We need 50 bags that are at least 8 x 11 and 50 smaller sized bags. We prefer gender neutral, non-denominational bags.
– 50 new tote bags for our homeless youth
– Hand warmers, gloves/hats/scarves, socks for 50 homeless youth
– Food for the Weds Holiday Party for homeless youth (see previous message)
– boxes and bags

The volunteers really appreciate the donations of coffee, sandwiches, cookies and more!

We have a Facebook group for people who want to help – check the Emergency Toy Drive Facebook Group for updates!


There have been several news articles about this – but here is what you need to know, for some reason there is a toy shortage and a number of local nonprofits do not have toys to distribute for Christmas.  I have joined with several other Pittsburghers to address this ASAP.

What we’re going to do… Collect toys and money and work with all of the organizations impacted to make sure that every need we can meet is met.

How you can help… 

1. Donate money

we’ve set up a Crowdrise page here.  All money raised on this page will be used to address the ugent need, I will provide updates here on this page as I get them.  Click here to donate online.

2. Donate toys – Toys can be donated at Most Wanted Fine Art

Please donate UNWRAPPED toys!  We need to sort and get the right items to the right places.  If we need help wrapping – we’ll put out a call for volunteers.

  • Most Wanted Fin Art Waterfront – Next to Panera
    • Friday Noon-9pm
    • Saturday Noon-9pm
    • Sunday Noon-6pm
  • Most Wanted Fine Art Penn Ave – 5015 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh 15224 — CALL First 412-508-6782
    • Saturday 11am-4pm


3. Spread the word – #PGHsavesXmas

Other ways to help…

  • If you are an organisation that is impacted by this toy shortage and need help – please email me ASAP lindsay@iheartpgh.com.  We have heard that 7 organizations are impacted by this shortage, we only know of 3.  We only want to make sure that kids that need toys are able to receive a toy.
  • If you want to help – join the Facebook Group Emergency Toy Drive
  • Offer to be a toy drop off spot – we’re still working on the logistics – but if you have a public space and would be willing to collect toys, please let us know.


Q: What happened, why is there a toy shortage.

A: We’re not sure.  We haven’t had a chance to get the whole story and the organizations that have been impacted are focused on an immediate solution.  We know that there have been a few reports in the news. We can sort this out after we address the immediate need.

Q: Who is working on this?

A: Thus far the following people have come together to work on a solution – we want to coordinate efforts to make sure we’re meeting the need everywhere.  Most Wanted Fine Art, Nina Sauer, Jason Sauer, Pittsburgh Bloggers, Jodi Hirsch, Sue Kerr, Jennifer England, Lindsay Patross

Q; Why is the crowdrise an individual page, rahter than to the non-profit.

A. Crowdrise cuts checks to nonprofits on the 15th of the month.  Given the urgent need – we set this up in a way we can collect moneies and disperse them ASAP.  Currently this is connected to my paypal account – I will provide a full accounting on funds here on IheartPGH for transparency.  If you would prefer to donate directly to a 501c3 organization – we understand and are working on posting a list of those organizations.  If you are a 501c3 Organization and can help us with this – please contact me lindsay@iheartpgh.com – we would prefer that all donations go directly to an organization.

Emergency Toy Drive Updates

Friday 12/19 – 4:30pm

WOW!  Yinz are amazing.  Toy donations are rolling in, in the past 5 hours – we’ve raised over $3400 and counting.  Here are the stats thus far:

  • 8 – # of non-profits that need toys
  • 1470 – kids that we believe we need toys from these 8 non-profits
  • 77 – # of people that have donated money to our Crowdrise page
  • 18 – # of people that have joined the Emergency Toy Drive Organizers Facebook group.

We will be meeting tonight at 6pm to take inventory and get organized for shopping and delivering.  Will post an update with needs later today.

THANK YOU for all of your support!

Friday/Saturday 12/20 – 1:00am – $5642 Raised!

It is really late, but I just got home and wanted to post a quick update about today and what will happen on Saturday.

First of all THANK YOU to everyone who has donated money, toys, tweets and support.  The response has been incredible – $5642 dollars donated in a little over 12 hours!!!

The organizing team met this evening at 6pm to map out a strategy.  We are working to make sure we are in contact with the organizations that were counting on donations from Toys for Tots.

One of the organizations has a toy distribution on Saturday afternoon.  We wanted to be prepared, so Jennifer and Lindsay headed out to pick up gifts for teens.  Everyone that we talked with – every employee at Old Navy and even the security guards were helpful.  We had to stop shopping because the car was full.

We’ve got a huge job to do and we are going to need your help.

Can you help us coordinate efforts with others? We really want to make sure we get the toys to the organizations that need the most help.  Lots of people are responding to the news – if you know of of a group that has received donations or needs donations – please let us know.

Here is what we need help with on Saturday:

  • More Gift Donations
    • We are looking for new gifts only
    • Please do not wrap any of the gifts
    • Gifts for Teens – we are most concerned about having gifts for older kids (ages 10-16) – if you would like to donate a gift, please consider something for an older kid
    • Bring donations to Most Wanted Fine Art at 5015 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
  • Sorting the donations – come to Most Wanted Fine Art and help us sort items by age group
  • Drivers/Shoppers – we think we are going to need to do a lot more shopping. This will go faster if we can have some more folks with cars come along.
  • Tag removal – almost everything we bought today has price tags, we could use help getting those off.
  • Larger staging area – Most Wanted Fine Art has been so incredible to step up and lend their space, but depending on how much we have donated and how much we can get out on Saturday – we may need more space.  If you know of a secure space that we can use for a few days, let me know.
  • Delivery volunteers – not totally sure what the need for this on Saturday will look like – but when we are ready to deliver the toys to the organizations we are going to need some help.

If you would like to volunteer or want more updates – join the Facebook Group.

 Sunday 12/21 10am – Toys and Snacks Needed

We’re making a list, and checking it twice! So much goodness.

Things we need today:

  • Here is what we need:
    • Gifts for older kids – books, craft kits, ear buds, scarfs, hats,
    • snacks, juice boxes, etc.  – several groups were canceling holiday celebrations, so we’re working to make sure they have party food
  • Donations can be delivered to
    • Most Wanted Fine Art Penn Ave
    • Most Wanted Fine Art Waterfront – next to Panera
    • East Hills Residence Council Community Center – 2291 Wilner Drive in Penn Hills – I will be there Noon-4pm
  • Volunteers are welcome to help at Most Wanted Fine Art or East Hills Community Center
    • We will have the Steeler game on at Most Wanted Fine Art

Check out the article in the Post-Gazette about the response!  We were also featured on WTAE last night. Have not found the clip online yet.

If you would like to volunteer or want more updates – join the Facebook Group.

Chipped Ham Pink is Now a Nail Polish Color

I’ve been working on a blog post about some great Pittsburgh Christmas gifts, but a tweet came across my radar with a Pittsburgh product that is probably worthy of its own blog post.  Chipped chopped ham is a distinctly Pittsburgh lunch meat.  If you didn’t grow up in Pittsburgh, and you aren’t familiar with the chipped chop ham or ham barbecue – head over to the chipped chopped ham Wikipedia page for a full education.  The fact that chipped chopped ham has its own Wikipedia page should be an indication to you that this is something Pittsburghers take seriously.

So what does this have to do with nail polish? Meet Chipped Ham Pink



…for $7 you can now paint your nails in a color inspired by chipped chopped ham.

Gridlock Lacquer and their line of Pittsburgh nail polishes which come in the following shades…

  • Chipped Ham
  • Steel My Heart
  • Pittsburghese, not Bougeois

Click here to see all three of the Pittsburgh colors.

We can only assume that the most gilded shade of gold will soon be added to the Pittsburgh collection.  The company is based in Buffalo, NY – so maybe they haven’t yet discovered our loyalty to the shades of black and gold.  I help but wonder if there is a buffalo sauce share of nail polish in the Buffalo collection.

All of these colors and colors for other rust belt cities are available on Gridlock Lacquer website.  Follow @GridlockLacquer for more updates.

Update 12/18:

Pittsburgh is spelled correctly on the bottle, the glare in the photo is hiding the H

Pittsburgh is spelled with an H

Pittsburgh is spelled with an H

Christmas delivery is a maybe.  I’ve asked Gridlock to keep me posted on this.

Yes, there is also a shade for the BBQ sauce, meet Wingin’ It – so you could have chipped chop ham BBQ nails.

Pittsburgh Manicure

The ultimate Pittsburgh Manicure

CHS Gift Project Party @ Houghs – Will YOU Help Us Reach Our Goal?

CHS-2014-cookies-circleUPDATE: If we raise all $5000 by 8pm 12/11/2014 – I’ll buy your first beer at Hough’s tonight. Get the details here

Today, Thursday December 11, 2014 is the party for the CHS Holiday Gift Project at Houghs.  I am not yet ready to celebrate because we have only raised 20% of the $5000 needed for 2014.  While I look forward to drinking a beer with you this evening, I’m more interested in making sure we turn that 20% into 100%!

Click here to donate $10 to the 2014 CHS Holiday Gift Project 

CHS Holiday Gift By The Numbers

In 2013 – 74 people donated to the CHS Holiday Gift Project on Crowdrise.  This year, I have a personal goal of doubling that number because I would like to use this as an opportunity to share information about CHS with more Pittsburghers.

As of 10 am, 34 people have donated and we have raised $1100.

Three Reasons Why I am Supporting the 2014 CHS Holiday Gift Project

I am supporting the CHS Holiday Gift Project again this year because…

  • Mental illness needs to be talked about … I think that mental illness is a real issue in Pittsburgh and cross the country, and that CHS is doing some very important work to help improve the lives of Pittsburghers who are struggling with mental illness.
  • No one should be alone on Christmas… The CHS Holiday Gift Project provides some holiday cheer for some people that would not be receiving anything this holiday season.  Most holiday gift projects provide gifts for kids and seniors.  CHS works with people of all ages – the CHS Holiday Gift Project was started because many of the people that CHS works with were left out of Christmas cheer.
  • Tweet for good… This is a great opportunity to engage the readers of IheartPGH and the entire Pittsburgh social media community for a good cause.

Click here to donate $10 to the 2014 CHS Holiday Gift Project 

If you would like to help….

  • Donate $10 TODAY
  • Invite 5 Friends to donate $10 (you can even create a fundraising team)
  • Share this blog post with your followers on Twitter
Will YOU help @IheartPGH raise $$$ for #CHxmaS? Donate $10 TODAY

Click To Tweet

The other reason I love the CHS Holiday Gift Project is that it is a chance for local bloggers to work together to create more good in the Pittsburgh community.  I am so impressed with my fellow bloggers who have supported this in years past and the new bloggers that have stepped up for the first time this year.

Check out how local bloggers are working together to raise $5000 for Community Human Services, a Pittsburgh non-profit that works on issues of homelessness and mental illness in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. You can support the CHS Holiday Gift Project by donating online HERE

Pitt-starter: Piebird – More Pie for Pittsburgh

pie-bird-logoPiebird has been baking up sweet treats for Pittsburgh restaurants since 2011.  They are planning to open a storefront on Butler Street in Lawrenceville in 2015 and needs your help to support the purchase of upgraded commercial pastry kitchen equipment including ovens, mixers, refrigerators, cookie sheets, and all of other essentials that are necessary to make sweet treats.

I have selected this Kickstarter to share for two reasons…

1. Who doesn’t like pie?

2. Super creative Kickstarter perks – I give Piebird extra points for creative thinking on the thank you gifts – I believe this is the first time we’ve seen underwear as a thank you gift.

  • $25 – Salted Caramel Sauce – Share your support and we’ll share annalee’s legendary salted caramel sauce! During the opening week of the kitchen, stop in, say hello, and we’ll reward you with a jar (share if you must).
  • $50 – Underwear… yep, exclusive, limited edition, screenprinted Piebird undies! (who needs another t-shirt) oh, and we’ll thank you in our video
  • $500 – Private Dessert Party for you and 15 friends Share your support and we’ll share annalee’s legendary salted caramel sauce! During the opening week of the kitchen, stop in, say hello, and we’ll reward you with a jar (share if you must).

Click here to contribute to the Piebird Kickstarter Campaign

You can follow Piebird on Twitter @PieBirdPGH