Katja Nybacka's son Adam, who has autism, collects promotional pens with the names of companies printed on them. In an effort to cheer him up following a tough year in which his gran died, she posted an ad on Sweden's Craigslist equivalent Blocket, asking if anyone with spare pens could send them to him ahead of his 10th birthday.
“There is an autistic boy who turns 10 in December. Most people with autism have one or several special interests. One of this kid's is that he collects promotional pens,” Nybacka explained in the ad.
“Do you have one or several such pens you're thinking of throwing away? Send me a mail and I would more than gladly pay for the postage, if you can imagine cheering up the boy's day to day and expanding his collection,” she added.
The ad soon spread on Facebook, and in just over a week received tens of thousands of responses. The pens have also started to arrive by their hundreds.
“Adam is really happy and thinks it's fun that he's in the newspapers and on Facebook. He said 'everyone is writing about me', but he hasn't really understood how huge it has been. He should be called the pen boy from here after, I think,” stepdad Björn Sundberg joked to Swedish news agency TT.
One of the Facebook groups the ad spread to is “Truckers Paradise”, which as the name suggests, is for truck drivers and truck enthusiasts. Users there have been posting pictures of the pens they sent off to Adam:
“We expected about 1,000 pens would come and we would have room for them on a board. But the way it looks now we'll have enough to fill the whole garage. Fortunately we have space. I don't think Adam will want to have the pens in a drawer somewhere, it's not really his style!” Sundberg concluded.