North Pole family reaches out via Craigslist

Posted: Thursday, December 24, 2009

NORTH POLE - James and Shelly Warren are not well-to-do, but 2009 was a good year so they posted an ad online offering to help a family during the holidays.

James, 29, works as an assistant chaplain at Eielson Air Force Base, wher he's in the enlisted ranks of the military. Shelly, also 29, works in their large but modestly furnished home off Badger Road caring for their five children, ages 6 months to 7 years.

Unexpectedly, James' hobby of posting goofy homemade music videos on YouTube turned into a moneymaker. YouTube pays Warren for ads it posts on his YouTube channel. Warren declined to disclose how much.

"We don't need the extra income to get by," he said. "We're not driving Lexuses or anything, but the Air Force has always taken really good care of us. I just thought it would be nice to do something different, more personal, where one family reaches out to another family."

Or six.

Because of the overwhelming response to their ad, posted on Craigslist on Dec. 17, Warren and his wife decided to help multiple families.

Mostly they are providing toys for children, including Nintendo Wiis, but one family simply wanted a chainsaw so they could go out and cut their own firewood for heat.

On Christmas morning, the Warrens will arrive on the doorstep of a family they've never met with a minivan load full of presents and some homemade fudge, cookies and peanut butter balls.

A relative arranged for the assistance for the struggling family by answering the Craigslist ad.

"We're very blessed, and the opportunity to help somebody else outweighs anything else we could have done with the money," Shelly Warren said. "It doesn't take a lot of money to help somebody out."

The couple's oldest son, 7-year-old Joseph, said his family is experiencing what it feels like to be charitable during the holidays.

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