As we feel Fall kick into high gear, we are very likely putting the finishing touches on the Halloween costumes, while keeping a close eye on the rapidly approaching Thanksgiving holiday. Popular mommy blogger and mother of three, Jill Smokler (aka Scary Mommy), is not only preparing her own family’s holiday meal, but also hoping to help arrange Thanksgiving dinner for more than 550 other families, too.
Jill’s blog, ScaryMommy.com, has nearly 6 million visitors a month, and her Twitter and Facebook following are enviable. Her claim to fame are her honest-to-goodness, real, down and dirty accounts of motherhood. And as part of those conversations, she has allowed for anonymous confessions – where women can divulge the dirty details of their mothering without facing embarrassment. And a couple of years ago, she came across these comments from her community of followers:
“I can barely afford to feed my family. It’s humiliating.”
“I am so broke I went to get a food-box. They told me I make too much money and I just cried and cried. I have no food. I don’t live extravagantly. I work at the welfare office. I can’t even tell my family how bad it is.”
“Thanksgiving dinner? Ha. I can’t even buy a loaf of bread.”
“My husband just lost his job. I have no idea how we are going to put food on the table.”
Instead of dismissing the comments, she became obsessed with doing something about them, and Scary Mommy Nation was born. Jill was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some of our questions about how she is using her power in the blogosphere to help other women.
TSR: What is Scary Mommy Nation and how did it come to be?
Scary Mommy Nation is a 501(c)3 charity that was born from a post on my blog, ScaryMommy.com, two years ago. I have an anonymous confessional on my site, and in mid-November, I noticed several confessions from moms struggling with feeding their children or having to cancel their Thanksgivings because of the expense. As I was planning and preparing my own Thanksgiving dinner, the confessions really got to me. As mothers, what we want most is to take care of and provide for our children; I knew I couldn’t help forever, but I maybe I could help one or two families at least have a happy holiday dinner. I asked my readers if they could do the same, thinking perhaps, we’d be able to help a dozen families. We ended up raising $20,000 in a week and providing dinner for 400 families. It was mind-blowing.
TSR: Was there ever a time that you worried about your ability to put food on the table and feed your family?
I’m very fortunate that putting food on the table has never been something I’ve struggled with. I’ve worried about bills, tuition and activity costs, but they all seem so frivolous compared to the basic necessity of food. I think that’s what got to me about the confessions.
TSR: You are a pretty well-known voice in the blogosphere. Why did you feel compelled to use that voice, and the power that comes with it, to help other moms out?
Once I saw what my site could do two years ago, it was impossible to just sit back, bask in the glow and be done with it. I became addicted to the feeling of giving back, my mind raced with all the ways the site could possibly help. I don’t think I realized how wide spread the need was before; that it was moms like me – within my community – who were struggling.
TSR: Do you think that those of us with the power to make a positive change are obligated to do so?
I think those of us with the power to make positive change are absolutely obligated to use it. I learned that first year that people really want to make a difference; they just need to be given an avenue to do so. If you can provide that for them, why wouldn’t you?
TSR: How many families has Scary Mommy Nation helped feed so far, and how many do you hope to help feed this holiday season?
Over 750 families have benefitted from Scary Mommy Nation through different programs we offer, and I want to help as many people as possible this year. I have no idea what that number is, and I’m hoping the community will once again blow me away.
TSR: If people would like to donate, where can they go?
Update: As of November 25th, 2013, Scary Mommy Nation raised more than $150,000 and has been able to fulfill 2,765 Thanksgiving requests this year.
Update: As of November 4th, 2013, Scary Mommy Nation has raised $67,879.45 dollars and has adopted 1,325 families to feed for Thanksgiving.
Jill Smokler is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of A Scary Mommy (April 2012) and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies) (April 2013) as well as the owner all things Scary Mommy. Jill’s website averages over 6 million page views a month, and her Twitter feed and Facebook page entertain over 430,000 people daily. Her children remain highly unimpressed.