Grassroots Giving

When faced with disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti, it’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed. What can one person, thousands of miles away, do to help in a crisis that big? Relief groups and charities appreciate individual donations, but how much help are we really giving when you’re looking thousands dead or hurt and billions of dollars needed?

You don’t have to be a lone voice. It’s surprisingly easy to put together a fundraiser or donation drive. I posted about some things you can do over at the Foundation Beyond Belief blog.


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. In the first couple of days after the earthquake , a friend of mine in San Francisco and I started a sort of phone tree asking for low tech disability aids to be sent to a friend in Vermont (he has a monstrous and mostly unused barn) where the items would be sorted, packaged and shipped to Haiti.

    They really need a bunch of white canes, ton of fairly rugged manual wheelchairs (electrics are nice if you have electricity), crutches, walkers (with and without wheels), recycled eye glasses (we didn’t do this as some other group was on top of it really quickly) and a number of other items.

    We filled two cargo containers and shipped them off and now formal organizations are handling this problem. So, an exchange on twittr, a few phone calls, a handful of U. Vermont students and voila!

    My role was limited to about a dozen phone calls and a check to rent a truck.

    It’s amazing what the network model of human communication can accomplish very quickly. We started thinking only about white canes but as othrs got involved, they brought creativity within practicality and it really took off and no one seemed terribly burdened by their activities on this project.

  2. It’s so easy to feel discouraged in the face of big problems. I try to remember that everything is made up of tiny parts.

    One of my personal projects this year is to explore local charities that I can get behind and post a blurb on them on my blog, as well as donate myself.

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