OK–we made it through Grey Thursday and all it’s attendant protests, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday…a somewhat treacherous (to your wallet) path, but today you have arrived at the pinnacle event: GIVING TUESDAY.
As a follow up to the rampant purchasing, today, Giving Tuesday, has been designated as a time to give to those less fortunate than yourself. It is a campaign to create a NATIONAL DAY OF GIVING at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations. We had our day for giving thanks, a few days for getting deals, now it’s a day for giving back. Big organizations are behind it, like the 92nd Street Y in NYC (the incubator of the idea), United Nations Foundation, United Way, Huffington Post, City of Hope, Charity Miles, DoSomething.org, Pencils of Promise, American Red Cross, Kiva, Global Giving, and so many more. There are now more than 2,000 Giving Tuesday partners with special initiatives and projects tied to this day, so it is super easy for you to get involved. Choose your favorite cause and give: time, money, both (or a commitment to show up and volunteer soon)…then spread the word…be audacious and vocal about your good deeds, it will inspire others. Here is a whole list of ideas for ways individuals and families can get their giving on. JUMP IN!
I know vaccinations are an issue of some contention and emotions run high about the issue. I know Michele Bachmann has made the already fraught debate a little murkier with her falsehoods and either misunderstanding or ignorance of the facet of the issue she chose to tackle. Most of all, I know kids hate shots. In addition, I know the science backs up the fact that without immunizations against preventable diseases, kids are vulnerable…and some die, needlessly. Two million kids around the world will die this year due to a lack of access to vaccines. Another one slips away from preventable illness every 20 seconds. The science/medicine will keep getting better, but right now, vaccines are the most accessible way to save these children’s lives.
Pneumonia. Diarrhea. Measles. Polio. They don’t take the same toll on kids in our home communities because of the history of years, even decades of vaccinating the vast majority of children. In developing countries, this is not the case. The medical trend is, thankfully, getting better. Since 2001, measles fatalities have been decreased internationally by 78%, because vaccines are being made more widely available. The world is nearly free of polio, as over 2.5 billion kids around the globe have been vaccinated.
The United Nations Foundation has launched the Shot@Life program, to educate communities in every nation about the lifesaving tool available to them, and to get those medical tools to the people.
It’s not just about surviving, it’s about thriving. Get involved and give more kids what they deserve…give them a shot at life.
This weekend marks the 65th anniversary of the United Nations. The work of the UN is unique in creating alliances between nations, and the work that isn’t just on a political level, but on the ground changing lives. UN Peacekeeping Forces are, right now, making it safe for 200 million people in areas of conflict. 190 countries are banded together to address climate change via the UN. Hundreds of millions of girls are having doors to education opened due to UN work, and millions of children have been inoculated against polio through the United Nations.
And it was fifty years ago that presidential candidate John F. Kennedy called on young Americans to offer their talents and energy to the world in service. That collaborative worldwide effort would eventually be called the Peace Corps, celebrating its 50-year anniversary next year.
What will you collaborate on this weekend? It’s all about doing it together.
SO I recently read the horrifying facts about how women and girls are being attacked and raped in alarming numbers in and around the tent villages where displaced Haitians are living post-earthquake. Security and safety are dire with no power, after dark, it is simply unsafe to be out, which means women just headed to a latrine are in danger. An organization called EarthSpark is working to mobilize delivery of over 20,000 lamps to the camps to make them more safe for all, in addition to other clean and sustainable energy projects around the world. Just lighting the way can bring more security to these tough conditions.
In that same vein, Kris Allen, winner of American Idol last year, was the figurehead of a program via Idol Gives Back to which viewers donated to provide new solar street lamps for the Haitian camps. More than $250,000 was raised for the United Nations Foundation during the special AMERICAN IDOL episode in February of this year, and then Allen traveled to Haiti with UN representatives. The UN Foundation has granted the money to the United Nations Population Fund to provide energy efficient street lights, as well as emergency health kits to help pregnant women deliver their babies safely when they can’t reach a hospital or clinic or don’t have access to those facilities.
Since the devastating earthquake, which killed an estimated 200,000 Haitians, the United Nations Foundation has raised nearly $4 million for relief and recovery efforts in Haiti. The funds were to help provide food, medicine, water, and shelter immediately following the earthquake, to the United Nations Development Program for their Cash-for-Work Program (to offer Haitians temporary jobs with necessary demolition and rubble removal work), and to the UN Population Fund for maternal health kits. The solar street lights are an additional arm of the programs.
Your support of EarthSpark, Idol Gives Back, and the UN Foundation will go farther than you think–so use those links.
I love it when there are ways to make the world a better place while patronizing the travel industry. Expedia (cue voices to sing “dot commmm“), in addition to making shopping for travel bargains easy from your computer, has also, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, created the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism.
Their mission is clear, and strong (from the website): “We believe that everyone has a part to play in the conservation of our global heritage. That’s why we work with travelers, members of the travel industry, government groups, non-governmental organizations, and the United Nations to protect and preserve World Heritage sites and promote local communities.
The World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism is a global community committed to the conservation of World Heritage sites and the well being of local people.
We are people protecting places. Thousands of individuals support our cause by pledging to travel responsibly and by donating to fund community projects in and around World Heritage sites.”
From Stonehenge to Machu Picchu, the Statue of Liberty to Niagara Falls, Yosemite to the Okavango Delta, there are 890 World Heritage Sites in 148 countries around the world. These are the places we and our children and their children and beyond do and will create some of our greatest memories. These are the spots for once-in-a-lifetime moments, and assuring they are protected is everyone’s responsibility.
Consider becoming a World Heritage Alliance member, donating, and pledging to be sure that in your own travels, you respect and honor the places you visit. As the Alliance says: We’re not asking you to save the world. Just its greatest places.