Ben Buckley wanted to give his children a big Christmas after a difficult year.
As the New York Post reports, the 32-year-old father of five from Hull, England was looking at a disappointing Christmas. After a difficult pregnancy, his partner was ill. He’d cut down his hours at work to help with the children, but his boss was unhappy and he was barely making enough to scrape by.
Now, with a new baby, four older children, and a partner who has been ill, Buckley only had enough money to pay the bills. What he wanted was to give his family a good Christmas. He told Hull Live:
“This should be a happy time for us all, but under the surface of it all for me and my partner, it’s nothing but anxiety and worry about what’s to come and what we are to tell the kids and many other things.”
He added that he doesn’t have, “a big family network,” as his parents only make enough to take care of themselves. So he decided to crowdfund his holiday.
Buckley created a GoFundMe page asking for about $2500 so he could buy Christmas presents for his family. On the page, he explained the family’s financial troubles, and added, “I beg and plead for some help so I can give my children a happy Christmas.”
He told Hull Live that he’d never done anything like this before, but thought it might, “make things comfortable”:
“I’m feeling a lot of panic and anxiety and feeling shameful. […] At the minute, what I have coming in covers surviving. I don’t like the feeling of being a charity case. I don’t like to feel like I’m begging.”
The dad’s bid for help was a success. He quickly met his funding goal and then thanked everyone who contributed. He says he plans to leave the GoFundMe page up a little longer so people can see the “thank you,” then close it down for good.
While Buckley’s fundraising effort was a financial success, it has been controversial. His stepfather told the Scottish Sun that Buckley is a good dad who would never let his children go without presents at Christmas. At the same time, as someone who has helped the dad with Christmas presents in the past, he considered the page, “begging,” and, “not nice”:
“He is family orientated but I wish he had spoke to me first. I don’t think it will cause a rift but I’m not happy with the situation.”
Buckley’s neighbors were also divided, with one telling the Sun she was, “disgusted,” by the fundraiser, while another talked about how polite the family is: “They are a very nice family. He is a gentleman.”
The controversy continued on social media, where some were offended at the idea of fundraising for Christmas gifts.
He's set up a fundraising page to buy Christmas presents for his children.
I think this shows everything that is wrong in this society and sends out the wrong message to his children.https://t.co/6fAnL7RrX9
— Lorraine King (@lorrainemking) November 19, 2018
2k to buy materialistic things.. yea i wont donate.
Christmas is about family firstly.
material things are not really important.. there are better causes to donate money to IMO.
you have a roof over your head, your kids, put on a good dinner and all celebrate around the table.
— Demosthenes (@PoliticalBrah) November 19, 2018
Others, however, were amused or sympathetic.
So you mean to tell me that his kids should be left without believing in magic? More power to him for wanting to keep that alive with such negativity in the world good for him ! Don’t like it don’t donate! But I’m glad you put it out there for his family ?
— Diana (@Mrs_Bosco0312) November 24, 2018
A dad in England set up a GoFundMe page to buy Christmas presents for his family, and now he's being criticized . . . by people who are mad THEY didn't think of it.
— Steve Sparks (@radiodjsteve) November 21, 2018
Aware that his GoFundMe had caused bad feeling, Buckley has included an apology with his online thanks to donors. He wrote:
“We are sorry if we caused any offence or upset anyone, this was never our intention. We never expected this amount of kindness or media attention. In the new year, we are going to make it one of our priorities to make monthly donations to other GoFundMe accounts.”