In The Spirit Of Giving

Her Brother Only Wanted One Thing For Christmas. Complete Strangers Made It Happen.

“eBay says I should have it by the 6th,” one Redditor wrote. “You’ll have it soon after that.”

We love tinsel and trappings as much as the next Elf on the Shelf devotees, but here at A Plus, we believe that true wintertime magic comes in the form of connection and human kindness. Over the next month, come back and join us in raising a glass to those who give — because what's December without a little holiday spirit?

Of all the people buying Tonka trucks as gifts this holiday season, it's likely few people (if any) have had as challenging a time than Cassie Gretschel. 

This 30-year-old from Maryland has given her brother Max the same present since 2000: a Tonka Police Hummer truck. Max is living with brain damage and multiple sclerosis, and that specific truck is "literally the only thing he will play with," Cassie told BuzzFeed News.

"[Tonka] only came out with a couple of toys over the years with levers that are super handicapped friendly," she explained. This model is "pretty much the holy grail for a visually impaired kid who can crawl behind it without it going into the other room."

There's just one problem: Tonka has long since discontinued that product.

In a quest she calls "mission impossible," Cassie and her parents search eBay for the Tonka Police Hummer truck every year. She even has an eBay alert on her phone, just so she doesn't miss an opportunity.

There's an orange version of the same truck — a Rescue Hummer — which is easier to find. But Cassie made the mistake of giving Max the blue version one year, and now that's the only one he wants.

Max accepts no substitutes either. Other Tonka trucks with rubber tires frustrate him because the tires pop off easily. He requires the Police Hummer truck's signature metal hook. He notices if Cassie tries airbrushing and accessorizing other trucks. Cassie even made a silicone mold of the Police Hummer truck, just in case.

This year, Cassie posted a plea to Reddit, hoping anyone knew where she could get the Tonka Police Hummer truck. Her post went viral, with thousands of people commenting.

"I found one on eBay and bought it," one Redditor wrote. "eBay says I should have it by the 6th. You'll have it soon after that. Yep, I know blue is preferred, but I'm hoping this one will work. I couldn't find a blue one."

Another Reddit user spotted the truck in an eBay France listing and volunteered translation services through his or her French-speaking boyfriend.

Total strangers moved by Cassie's plight even contacted Tonka, and the toy brand responded yesterday, November 29. "Thank you so much for reaching out to us regarding this extremely touching story," it wrote on Facebook. "We have been able to contact the author and are making arrangements!"

All told, the Reddit response and the Tonka outreach must seem like a Christmas miracle for the Gretschels. "People expect me to treat [Max] differently, but it's just like having a little brother who never grew up," Cassie told Buzzfeed. "I still treat him like my annoying little brother, but I never want to let him down."

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