written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
illustration by Bloo
Tis the season for Dasher and Dancer, Love Actually and Home Alone making the TBS rounds... and of course Peppermint Mochas. For a season that rides so high on the consumerism of the world's populace, it's easy to forget something else the season is for; no I'm not referring to drunkenly making out with your office crush at the yearly Christmas party (but good on ya if ya made the move), rather I'm referring to the giving part. The Holiday season is the perfect time to take a step back... pull away from a notion of self-centric... and put a smile on someone else's face. There's a whole laundry list of things I can suggest you to do, but facilitating deposits into your own personal karma banks isn't the point of this piece... rather I want to shine the spotlight on a friend of LG who did something truly remarkable.
To us, she's simply Mia... but to the world she's the mega popular cosplayer extraordinaire Ani-Mia. Her following on Facebook is staggering at over 600k followers, he fans stretch from coast to coast willing to wait in lines to meet her at conventions she attends. So what does she do with a following like that, well how about making it so a bunch of kids have a very Merry Christmas?
Calling on her impressive following to make this happen, Mia started the ball rolling by donating the first $100, fast forward to her fans donating almost $1,600 more, some even sending good vibes from far-away places like Kuwait, Baharain and the UK... this little cosplayer who could spread bundles of Holiday cheer... by means of toys, for the tots.
Got a chance to catch up with Mia a bit, let's check in with... me again... with Ani-Mia (wow, going all news-program like doesn't work well in text).
Lifted Geek: Inspiring... truly; this is nothing short of amazing... what brought you to deciding on giving back the way you did?
Ani-Mia: Well I’ve sponsored a kid at Christmas since I can remember but this was the first year where I looked at my fan base and thought why not see if I couldn’t get help sponsoring even more kids.
LG: What factors were important to you when searching for a charity to work with?
AM: I wanted to find a local charity to donate to because charities like the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots get a lot of attention during the holidays so I wanted to find one that would generally get overlooked.
LG: What were your expectations when you first conceptualized raising money for toys? Did you think you would raise as many donations as you did in the time you did it?
AM: I honestly just thought I’d get donations of $1 or $5 at most. And at first that’s what it was. But then I tried different ways to get people excited about donating and fans started encouraging each other and it grew into something much bigger than I ever expected.
LG: Your contributions are going to bring some needy kids a serious reason to smile, how does it make you feel knowing that because of something as simple as calling on the support of your fanbase... you are bringing a kid who needs it a very happy Christmas?
AM: It’s incredible. It didn’t really seem real until I took the toys to the shelter and saw how excited the director was.
LG: What are some of the toys you picked up this year? Did you stick to one store or spread it out among several shops?
AM: I went to a bunch of different stores: Walmart, Target, Toys R US, Marshalls...whatever I could to find the best deals to get the most toys. I didn’t want to just get cheap toys either because I wanted toys kids would be excited to get. I picked up everything from Legos, TMNT, Barbies...even makeup for teen girls.
LG: Definitely, the name Ani-Mia belongs on Santa's nice list, thinking back on your childhood... what was the most memorable gift Santa ever gave you?
AM: My favorite was my Nintendo because I had been wanting one for so long before my parents finally got me one.
LG: How did you feel when you realized what it was?
AM: Getting an amazing gift at Christmas is an unbelievable experience. It’s like all your dreams coming true.
LG: Giving back... unapologetic selflessness... that to me is what the Holidays are about. What do the Holidays mean to you?
AM: That’s exactly what it is. Christmas has always been about giving, whether gifts or compassion.
LG: I'd say this was a success, how do you hope to inspire others to give back?
AM: I hope this inspires more people to donate to charities or start their own charity drives.
LG: Who are some on your inspirations, shaping you to be the kind hearted woman I know you are?
AM: My dad is my biggest inspiration since he always taught me to think about others.
LG: What about next year? any plans to do something like this again?
AM: Oh definitely, I hope that next year will be even bigger and we can raise even more money. I would love to be able to fill a truck next time rather than just a Honda Civic (though it was the entire inside and trunk)
LG: With that said... in closing... what would you like to say to our g33ks?
AM: Go forth and be excellent to each other, and party on dudes.
Donations were given to the Central Union Mission in Washington, D.C. for their Operation Christmas Toy Drive. While not given the spotlight of such big name charities like Toys for Tots or The Salvation Army, there are countless programs like this all around... perhaps even in your own back yard, and if you life behind a place like that it would literally be in your back yard... but I digress. Basically, I urge you to go forth if this story inspired you even in the slightest, and maybe next year find a way to give back yourself. Whether you're dropping off a Lego set... or a Honda Civic filled wall-to-wall with Lego sets, every little bit counts.
It takes some serious character to pull off something like this, if I could be frank for a moment... I'm incredibly proud of what Mia has been able to accomplish and I'm blessed to consider her a friend and fellow g33k-in-arms. Ani-Mia is without a doubt and incredibly "lifted" geek. #seewhatididthere
We here at Lifted Geek wish to you and yours a sincerely Happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza. You stay frosty... and get lifted.