The Quesnel Gifting Group is helping community members spread good cheer while stimulating the local economy.
Across the country “gifting groups” have been popping up on social media as communities seek to find new ways to stay positive and spread kindness to each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Online gifting groups are private groups created on social media in which members post their addresses so that they can find other members near them and secretly leave gifts on their doorstep. Gifts can be everything from care packages to toys and even wine or cannabis.
Individuals who take part in secretly gifting have been coined “ninjas” and a common phrase used by individuals as they post photos of the surprises left on their property is “I got ninja’d!”
The idea has gone viral on the internet over the last few weeks as thousands of individuals post photos and videos of themselves secretly dropping off gifts on unsuspecting doorsteps, usually while dressed up as ninjas, superheros or gift fairies.
The city of Quesnel can add itself to the list of communities to be hit by the gifting craze as the Quesnel Gifting Group, which was created on May 20 by Ashley Schmidt, has seen over 1000 members join in less then a week.
Schmidt was inspired to create the Quesnel Gifting Group after seeing the success of similar groups online, however she wanted to make sure that her group was one that was inclusive to everyone in the community.
“There has been a lot of groups online, like the Wine Ninjas and Wine Friends, but most of them were just for women — there wasn’t a group that was for everyone,” said Schmidt. So I created the Quesnel Gifting Group to try and make a place for everybody to be able to support each other”
Schmidt says she is seeing many local businesses going through a rough time during the COVID-19 pandemic, so in creating the group she not only wanted to help spread cheer around town but to encourage members to support the local economy in Quesnel.
“I have a lot of friends that are business owners in the community and I’m watching businesses being shut down and then turning around and seeing people shopping and online — so I wanted to try to find a way to get people excited about shopping local,” said Schmidt.
When a member joins the Quesnel Gifting Group they are first put into a queue with limited access to other members information so that Schmidt can insure they area member of the Quesnel community and not a scammer or an individual with a fake social media account. Once approved, members can navigate to different albums which represent neighbourhoods in Quesnel. Once they find their neighbourhood, members can choose to post their address as an invitation to be gifted or if they prefer to keep their address private they can ask that potential gifters send them a private message requesting their location.
Schmidt says she makes sure that all of the groups participants privacy is respected and that there are also ways for members to enjoy the group without providing personal information.
“It is totally up to the user if they want to post their address or not, some people just say private message me for my address if you want to,” says Schmidt. “We also have games and stuff that are going to be on the page so people can participate even if they don’t want to share their address and we make sure that people aren’t posting other personal information like ‘don’t gift me this weekend because I’m going to be away’ – we are really monitoring that kind of stuff and making sure that people’s privacy is being respected.”
The group which went live on Facebook on May 20, was an immediate success, and saw over 700 members join within the first 48 hours of its launch. As of May 29 the group has 1,142 members and Schmidt says that she is blown away by the positive response to the group from the community.
“The reaction has been really, really positive so far,” said Schmidt. “We needed something positive in the community and I’m all about pumping that positive attitude out there.”