Written by 11:25 pm Donor stories • 2 Comments


Donor Story: Sometimes, a holiday sweater is more than a sweater

This is the story of a $2600 sweater.

Late in 2017, a team of engineers, designers, product managers and researchers at Twitter received a rare piece of Twitter swag as a holiday gift: a bespoke blue sweater* emblazoned with little white birds. Joy and hilarity ensued, followed closely by envy, which gave way to the twin angels of forgetting and moving on. 

“I’ve been at Twitter for a while, so I have quite a lot of stuff with Twitter birds on it,” offered Mike Kruzenski, the architect of Sweatermageddon. “I try to regularly clean out my closet and donate things to Goodwill. I thought this sweater was special and might be something that people on Twitter might want.” He was not wrong, though he did slightly underestimate the scope of desire. 

“At first I thought I’d just give it away to whoever wanted it, but it’s a great sweater so I knew someone might be willing to pay for it. I figured I’d try to raise some money for a charity.” He decided to auction the sweater. “I thought of The Human Utility right away! I really admire what you do, and you also feel like a part of the Twitter community, so it seemed like a great fit for this.” 

Just before the sweater auction closed, Louis Gray swooped in a like a true internet bidding master. He picked up the “blue-hued wonder” for a cool $600. His employer, Google, will match his donation. That’s $1200, which will go toward paying water bills.

Then Mike piped up with an offer to match Louis’ $600. And Mike’s employer, Twitter, will also match his donation. So, another $1200! The cherry on top? Michael Sippey, one of the crestfallen unsuccessful bidders, donated his bid anyhow, bringing us to $2600. 

Mike giving the sweater to Louis

When Mike delivered the sweater to Louis, he observed that the internet was pretty cool sometimes. Indeed. Thanks to the internet, more specifically Twitter, even more specifically Twitter users (which describes a good chunk of you, our donors), we’ve been able to save water access for THOUSANDS of people. And re-home a sweater in the process.

This work is serious, with big consequences. Family separation. Life. Death. There’s not a lot of ‘fun’ in it.  

Mike’s Twitter sweater auction, on the other hand, was whimsical, personal, perfect — one person’s quirky idea, with the pure motives of helping other human beings AND having a little fun. Mike took a sweater, moldering in the back of his drawer, and turned it into enough money to pay about eight families’ water bills. That’s around 24 more people who won’t have to worry about not having water this holiday season. 

In addition to helping people who could really use a bit of kindness, it was “WAY MORE FUN” than even he had imagined. “It far exceeded my expectations, and it was nice to see others kick in donations even though they didn’t win. It was one of the more heartwarming things I’ve experienced on the internet recently.”

Louis wearing the sweater

* Sweater designed by Joe Tutterow, with production help from Casey DeTorres and Hayley Huxtable. 

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Tags: , , , , , , , Last modified: January 27, 2020