Unless you’ve been living on another planet for the last fortnight you’ll be only too well aware of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. You may also have seen the countless warnings about bogus charities that have sprung up in the wake of the disaster, claiming to be in aid of storm victims. But many genuine non-profits have also been set up over the last week or so, and one that caught my eye today was the brainwave of an 11-year-old girl, in New Jersey.
Photo credit: Jon Bradley, Philly Post
Lucy Walkowiak, who – according to her father – already does a lot of community service through her school, has opened a temporary Internet café outside her home (in one of the few areas still with power), to allow people to keep up-to-date on the news and contact friends and families, as well as charging their phones and other devices. In return, she asks for a small donation towards the relief work that the Red Cross is carrying out in affected parts of the USA.
Photo credit: Jon Bradley, Philly Post
Opening from 7.30am to 10pm the café has apparently attracted a lot of grateful users, and has already raised over $100, thanks to Lucy’s and others’ generosity. What an enterprising young lady she is… yet another young philanthropist to add to our rapidly growing list!
For more on this story, see the following video:
Fans of Korean boy band JYJ (named from the initials of its three members, Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu) have been helping victims of the recent Philippines floods, which affected more than 4 million people and left 109 dead.
JYJ Philippines, the local fan club of the band, set up “JYJ Reach – the JYJ Philippines Flood Relief Charity Project”, and appealed to fans in other countries to assist them. By yesterday the total donated had reached just over PhP 55,000 (around $1,300), with donations coming from the USA, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Canada, Turkey, Hong Kong and the Philippines itself. When one considers the likely average age of the boy-band’s fans, this is a pretty gratifying total. Initial funds raised were used to purchase ready-to-eat foods and medicines, for distribution by the Philippine Red Cross, and next week further funds will be donated to Sagip Kapamilya and World Vision. .. two other charities currently working in the Philippines.
Last weekend we were – understandably – reminded endlessly in the media of the tsunami that took place, a year before, in Japan. Although only those who were directly involved could be expected to fully understand the horror of that event, the scenes of devastation that still remained a year afterwards did give at least some idea of how violent the forces of Nature can be, and of the dramatic effect on the lives of the people affected.
Since March 2011 Japan’s efforts to restore some measure of normality to communities there have been greatly helped by the generosity of people around the world, and much of the fundraising has been carried out by the Red Cross.
So it is perhaps particularly appropriate that this is Red Cross Month in the USA, where the efforts of the American Red Cross have been celebrated at this time of year ever since the Second World War. The American Red Cross was created in 1881, to bring together public donations and volunteering efforts to provide relief at times of disaster worldwide, which now number almost 70,000 each year.
Working with its Hawaii Chapter, as well as the Japanese Red Cross, the American Red Cross managed to raise more than $312million for shelter, supplies and other services so desperately needed by the more than 300,000 survivors of last year’s Japanese earthquake and Pacific tsunami. In total it has underwritten more than half of the Japanese Red Cross’ long-term recovery activities.
The Canadian and British Broadcasting Corporations report this weekend that a retired couple from Nova Scotia, Canada – Allen and Violet Large – who won $10.9m (£6.7m) in a lottery last July, have now given away virtually all of it to the community, having spent nothing on themselves. After making sure that their family were taken care of, they have been giving away the remainder (some 98% of the total), claiming that they were “plain country folks” who were content with what they already had – including their 147-year-old home – and that happiness couldn’t be bought. Recipients of their generosity have included churches, hospitals, emergency services, cemeteries, and the Red Cross.