DeBug’s Letters to Santa toy drive reaches Mexico
Carson City-based DeBug Computer faced a Christmas challenge. Every year, the company hosts a Photos with Santa event with proceeds going to a local non-profit. The DeBug team huddled with Santa to discuss how to reach the children safely during the coronavirus pandemic. They decided to ask children, with their parents’ consent and supervision, to email a letter to Santa@debugcomputer.net.
In exchange, for every email letter received, DeBug would donate a new sealed toy to Tiffani and Bailee’s Sealed Toy Drive for children being treated for cancer at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.
Through the magic of Christmas and social media, Santa received a response from an unexpected digital pen pan pal in Mexico.
“I guess that I am too old for Christmas presents now, I just wanted to make sure that someone through this letter will have a happy Christmas and a lovely toy to play with,” the email read. “Thanks for what you are currently doing, especially during these hard times. May God bless you.”
Many children at the Lucille Packard hospital are neutropenic, meaning they have little to no immune system. The only toys these children can receive on Christmas are ones that are untouched.
Tiffani Barber, who resided in Carson City, established the sealed toy drive eight years ago. Diagnosed with stage four brain cancer on Dec. 8, 2012, Tiffani was hospitalized at the Lucille Packard hospital because she was under the age of 26. During her time in the hospital, childcare specialists asked what they could do for her.
“Tiffani’s heart compelled her to respond with the questions, ‘What do you guys need? How can I help you guys?” said Bailee Barber, sister and co-leader of the toy drive.
After discovering neutropenic children needed toys and games to play together and with their visiting families during the holiday season, Tiffani and her sister founded the toy drive.
The pen pal in Mexico felt obliged to ensure an extra child received a toy on Christmas morning.
“Merry Christmas and happy holidays to your family and the children at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford,” he wrote.
For every letter to Santa sent to DeBug Computer at firstname.lastname@example.org, DeBug, who has participated every year the toy drive has been offered, will send an extra sealed toy to a child in need of some Christmas joy. Santa will respond to each and every letter.
Barber said Tiffani wanted to keep the toy drive alive in her memory.
“Anytime that I have the opportunity to share parts of her story, I wouldn’t pass it up,” she said. “This is how people get to know her and this is how people get to remember her. It is a way for her to live through me. Anyone now can’t recognize who she is but they can recognize things she left behind and the light, legacy and the love she had for life. That’s how I want to live my life and be portrayed.”
To make a direct toy donation on behalf of Tiffani and Bailee’s Sealed Toy Drive through Amazon, visit https://ecs.page.link/tkhqe. The link will take you to the hospital’s wish list of toys ranging from $5 to $40. After you select a toy, the link populates the shipping address, and your donation will be shipped directly to the hospital.