Sask. women giving in a time of uncertainty

Submitted photo.

We are still on lockdown and although the province is slowly opening up, there is uncertainty as to what the future will look like and many people are fearing that things will never be the same again. Fortunately, there are groups helping out the vulnerable by delivering food, medicine, and other essentials. And there are people giving secret gifts to others.

If you’re on Facebook, you may have seen posts from women about getting “ninjaed” and wondered what on earth that could possibly mean.

Well, there’s a bit of a movement going on in Saskatchewan and Alberta, where women are giving baskets of goodies, usually with a bottle of wine, to other women as an act of goodwill. In a Facebook group for Saskatchewan women, there are photos of baskets and bags of wine and snacks as well of videos of women stealthily running onto doorsteps, knocking, and running away. What seems to be reminiscent of knock-knock ginger, also called ding dong ditch, is a way to spread cheer to others.

“Getting ninjaed would basically mean that you were randomly chosen to receive a package.” Said Nicky Beckett, one of the Facebook group’s admins. “The person who’s ninjaing you gets to choose what to put in your basket, but if you have allergies or anything like that, then you can post that you cannot receive certain things.”

The way to get ninjaed is to be in the Facebook group and posting your address as well as listing anything that you cannot have, and some people list their favourite snacks or drinks. Anyone else can secretly choose you and you find out when you open your door to see a basket of goodies. Immediately after receiving your gift, you must remove your comment stating your address, so that others can be chosen. 

The main item of each basket is usually a bottle of wine.

“That was the whole point, was that it was supposed to be wine and it’s turned into other alcohol and other things.” Said Jennifer Zanidean, also an admin of the Facebook group. 

There are pregnant women and recovering alcoholics in the group who state that they can’t or don’t want to drink alcohol and they are gifted other snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.

Gifting a woman with goodies had not been exclusive to Saskatchewan until Zanidean saw that there was a group just for Alberta.

“I was a part of a different group, for one all across Canada.” Said Zanidean. “And I loved it so much because I got ninjaed… and then I was looking to see if the Saskatchewan group had one and when I saw Alberta had one I was like, “Nope, Saskatchewan’s gotta have one, too, so I created it.”’ 

Their Facebook group is exclusive to Saskatchewan ladies and it’s by invite only. A woman can choose to add you, or you can ask someone to add you if you know that they’re apart of the group and you want to give a gift and receive a gift. 

As with most things that are based on an honour system, there are some people who will take advantage. 

“There are some ladies that like to try to move past us and try to get ninjaed twice or multiple times.” Said Beckett. “But there are some ladies that happen to get ninjaed twice or three times in a day because they weren’t able to remove their address in time. Accidents happen, but we’ve been working hard.”

And there are even some women who didn’t quite like their gifts.

“There have been some people, too, who have complained about what they’ve gotten.” Said Zanidean. “That’s not the point, you’re not supposed to be expecting to receive something, you’re expected to give something.”

The good news is that most of the women who receive these baskets or bags of goodies are very excited and sometimes post about how their gift made their day, if not their whole week. 

The excited posts have circulated social media so much that the Saskatoon Police took notice and posted a warning about giving strangers your address and other personal information.

“I actually like that it (the warning) was out there.” Said Zanidean. “just simply because it took a lot off of us. We did have privacy concerns, but with the police out there saying, it really isn’t the wisest thing, you’re doing it at your own discretion, if you’re posting your address, you are aware of the risk. It is the internet, so it kind of helped us but also, the Negative Nancy’s are out more.” 

With a group of over 39,000 people, there are bound to be some hiccups, but the Facebook group has 10 admins and 22 moderators who watch for rule-breaking and generally monitor the group. 

And although it’s a lot of work and quite time consuming, seeing the excitement of posts makes the admins feel pretty good.

“I enjoy it,” Zanidean said. “It’s honestly a highlight of my day, seeing other ladies and women bring happiness to everyone.”

These ladies are only about one week into the Saskatchewan group and it has grown very quickly, as previously mentioned, there are currently over 39,000 members and those numbers continue to climb. Some of the admins are thinking of having the group up indefinitely.

“I’m hoping indefinitely,” Beckett said on the future of the group. 

“I think it will be (indefinitely). Zanidean added. “Somebody had commented that maybe this turns into something for Christmas, and to give to the shelters and that kind of thing. But, right now we’ve made it so that we’re deleting people’s addresses so that they don’t get ninjaed more than once, and eventually, we will allow addresses to go back on so that it can happen more than once. I think once that happens, once we allow addresses back on, we’re not going to moderate it as much, is my thinking. But, no, I hope this doesn’t get cancelled, I’m a little bit worried about the naysayers and whatnot. But we used to be able to search in the phone book and I mean in all honesty anybody can go onto 411 or the white pages or whatever. You can search up anybody’s address, it’s known everywhere. Just because it’s in this group doesn’t mean that it’s a wrong thing to do.”

The future may be uncertain, but what is certain is that most people like to receive gifts and some like to give gifts, knowing that it could make someone’s day, week, maybe even their month. 

If this Facebook group continues past the pandemic, then more people can continue to give and if it doesn’t, there will be a lot of people who put smiles on the faces of others and promoted happiness during a dark time.