Kindle Some Fires for Charity

Social Media for Social Good (SMSG) has been extended… because I don’t think I did a good job spreading the word. In fact, I meant to do that all of January too – but that was fail. What is SMSG? Read about it here: http://www.tartsweet.com/2013/10/26/smsg13-we-can-help-stop-human-trafficking/

Nevertheless I want to do that now. I’m going to create a rafflecopter… :X soon.

We can discuss prizes – it could be a kindle fire, a box of books, or something else, such as jewelry. I do want to note the prize will be *something that I have already. Why? I don’t want to spend money on this because I feel like if I were to spend money, it should go to a donation for charity. Does that make sense?

I hope you all understand.

How will this work? Any person who gets someone to comment on the SMSG13 post, or donate, or both, gets an entry. It’s your job to keep track. So, regardless if I do a rafflecopter or not, you can keep track in the comments of this post.

Ready? Set, GO! SMSG ends on VDay so let’s do this up big! Maybe we can raise a[nother] thousand. Or more! <3 I know I can depend on you!

*NB – the prize will be something NEW. I wouldn’t foist a white elephant type gift on any of you – especially not when it’s for something as brilliant as helping out a charitable cause!

Secondly, I’m closing comments here - because I want all your comments and questions to go to the SMSG post – because remember, each comment helps raise money for charity!

#SMSG13 Thoughts

My friends, I’m sure you’ve all seen and heard about the terrible devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

The NYT has a stark page of images – one from each day. News is coming in that the death toll might be much less than the early estimate of 10,000, which of course is good news, but the problem is there is such great need now.

I was wondering – what do you think of switching the focus of SMSG from Love 146 to typhoon relief/aid? I’d go with Save the Children we’ve given to them before, and they’re one of the organizations already on the ground helping.

What do you think? Any objections?

I’d especially like to hear from people who have donated already. If you have an opinion, let me know. I’m more than happy to split it up – or I might go $300/Love 146, $300/Save the Children.

Let me know please. Thank you <3

*ETA: SMSG13 We Can Help Stop Human Trafficking & Give Typhoon Relief Aid

SMSG13 is Social Media for Social Good 2013. This is our fourth year, and the target is to stop human trafficking. A lot of these facts are alarming. And I have to let you know if you research statistics – even your state, it might trigger trauma. But I think that’s why this is so important. Some of the things I read made me a bit queasy.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex, debt bondage, or forced labor. They are young children, teenagers, men and women. Trafficking in persons occurs throughout the world, including in the United States.

  • There is a total estimate of 29.8 million people in modern slavery.
  • Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90.
  • 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70% are female and half are children. - U.S. State Department
  • 1.2 million children are trafficked each year  - UNICEF
  • An estimated 26% of all forced labor victims are children. This means there are 5.5 million child victims at any given point in time. It is also estimated that children make up 21% of forced sexually exploited labor in the private economy. - The International Labour Organisation
  • People are reported to be trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy
  • Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labour are $31.6 billion USD
  • In 2006 for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted.
  • Only 0.4% of victims are identified.
  • Human trafficking not only involves sex and labor, but people are also trafficked for organ harvesting.
  • An estimated 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year from abuse, disease, torture, and neglect. Eighty percent of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, and some are as young as six years old.
  • According to a 2009 Washington Times article, the Taliban buys children as young as seven years old to act as suicide bombers. The price for child suicide bombers is between $7,000-$14,000
  • Human trafficking occurs in all fifty states in the U.S. (You can check your state “grade” which might be alarming.) The FBI estimates that over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from nine to 19, with the average being age 11. Many victims are not just runaways or abandoned, but are from “good” families who are coerced by clever traffickers.
  • After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world.
  • In the European Union alone, about 880,000 people are in forced labour, according to ILO estimates. That’s 1.8 in every 1,000 persons.
  • Human trafficking is a $9.8 billion domestic industry, with at least 100,000 children being used as prostitutes in America each year.
  • Two children are sold every minute.

And a testimonial of sorts:

They forced me to sleep with as many as 50 customers a day.  I had to give [the pimp] all my money. If I did not [earn a set amount] they punished me by removing my clothes and beating me with a stick until I fainted, electrocuting me, cutting me.

-Kolab, sex trafficking survivor from Cambodia

The charity I settled on is Love 146. I’m still debating on how – let me know if you have an opinion re: paypal or me setting up a Crowdrise campaign. (It may also depend on the handling fees of either.) I really like that Love 146 acts to prevent, but also provides aftercare.

Love 146

I’m pledging $1 per comment for the first day, maybe the first week. (I have to max out at $600. I’m hoping we hit 600 comments before the first week is over. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’m all in.) I definitely don’t expect everyone to make large donations. Any amount is helpful. $10, $5, $1. 50¢. Whatever you can give. Or if not, hit up your rich friends to donate. Parents, relatives. Have them comment because here’s the kicker with SMSG – even a comment on this blog post helps raise money. Amazing!

Initial pledgers are:

Shiloh Walker will donate $50, and if we hit 100 comments on the charity drive post, another $50, for a total of $100.
SpazP will donate $50
has pledged $100 once we reach 500 comments
Amara Royce
Rissatoo

Remember - every comment helps. As part of this being a fundraiser it’s also a comment drive. We want to raise awareness and spread the word. Together we can make a difference. <3

*ETA: The fundraising page is now live:

**Second ETA: I know we’ve all heard about the tragedy and devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan. It’s horrifying, so what I’ve decided to do is do a 25/75 split with the funds raised.  (25% will go to Save the Children to their specific Typhoon Relief Fund.) This is because yes, aid is greatly needed in the Philippines … and I know we all want to help. But the world is watching. I asked people who had donated, and they felt it was important to also bring attention to human trafficking. And … that’s true. I personally have met three suspected victims of human trafficking the past two weeks, and learned about new recruiting places. It’s terrifying, so I really hope you’ll join me. Just the cost of a cup of coffee or lunch out would really help. Even 100 people giving $1 would make a huge different. Please consider contributing.

Thank you!!!!

Social Media for Social Good (SMSG) on Make a Difference Day

My friends, today is Make a Difference Day. It’s the last Saturday of October each year. You might remember my SMSG charity drives. I planned on starting it today. (I still hope to have the post go live at some point today.) But we all know how the best of intentions go. Beyond that, this year is a little different … in that I was certain I knew what charity I wanted to support. I had everything planned out … and some of the information I had was lost, but more, the people I interacted with were terrible.

The focus of SMSG13 is Human Trafficking. This is a terrible global problem. I myself have seen girls we believe are victims of human trafficking at work. The FBI has been involved, and it’s complicated. Tragic. Worse? Oftentimes the individuals who are victims of human trafficking themselves pick up criminal charges and records … and worse they stick. (That’s yet another issue.)

In a way this is some crowd sourcing. At this point I’m leaning heavily towards Love 146. Other organizations I had looked into were UN-GIFT (The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. But I tried to contact them numerous times, called both the DC and NY office, and had a horrible experience. The NY girl was nicer, but useless – initially rude but better, but the DC girl (who I called first) almost gave me an aneurysm. So, you know. I had also considered the International Justice Mission. (I also researched at least 6 other charities, but you know, let’s stay focused.)

The difficult part is finding a charity that does international work, is as non-offensive as possible, has excellent ratings, and transparency. And of course, is an actual registered non-profit.

Which takes us to our next question. I was thinking of partnering with Crowdrise – I heard of them through a fundraiser DJ Tiesto did for (RED). Otherwise… through paypal? The latter requires you to trust me – that I’ll donate all fund for SMSG. (Which of course, I would do. And post the final lump sum donation.) I’m trying to get rates – although I think the trust is a bigger issue.

In short – would any of you be interested in or willing to pledge? I hope to get the “main page” up later today. Anyone who makes a pledge before that happens gets his/her named listed on that post.

Summary:

  • Will you (or anyone you know) be willing to make a donation pledge?
  • Do you have a particular international charity that targets Human Trafficking in mind that you feel very strongly about/more than Loe 146?
  • How should we do the donations? Crowdrise or paypal?

ETA: At the moments, I have 3 pledges.
Shiloh Walker will donate $50, and if we hit 100 comments on the charity drive post, another $50, for a total of $100.
SpazP will donate $50
has pledged

And … of course I’m donating. I’m thinking a dollar per comment definitely on the first day, maybe the first week depending. I want to donate $600. And I realize things are tough. I made less than $7K last year, so I know it’s not easy to donate. Seriously, any amount is awesome. $5 instead of a cup of coffee or a meal out? Totally appreciated. <3

*ETA: I decided to close comments to end confusion on which post should be used to count comments. Also, I decided to go with a Crowdrise because I plan on asking anyone to donate, and friends of friends etc wouldn’t be as likely to donate to some random paypal account I’m thinking. I’ll figure out something for paypal if Crowdrise doesn’t accept it.

Guest: Maggie Robinson <3

Ladies! (And gentlem[a]n? No seriously – are there any dudes who read this blog? I want you to fess up. You might get a cookie. No joke.) Anyway. Today we’ve got awesome author Maggie Robinson visiting with us! Double bonus (which I first somehow typed as “donus” which obviously must mean I have donuts on the brain…) Margaret Rowe is here too! ;D Funny how that works, eh?

We also can tell just how fantabulous Ms. Robinson-Rowe is, because I’m being… well, me+. (I’m on “sick-brain” still and it’s after midnight and I’ve been very sleep deprived.) Haven’t you guys missed me?! Anyway, the point is, I feel comfortable being insane in the introduction.

I’m sure Maggie now regrets this and will never guest again. So I hope you guys make the most of this, okay?!

Lime, thanks so much for having me here to talk about Lord Gray’s List, the first book in the London List Trilogy. And thank you also for doing your annual online charity drive. You’ve proven what one person can do, and provided me with a blog topic as well, LOL.

The London List is my fictional Regency newspaper, a kind of combination National Enquirer/craigslist, but it also serves as a charity for trouser-wearing termagant Evangeline Ramsey. She has so many requests for help that she can’t possibly publish everything or she’d be cutting down swaths of forest for newsprint. So she has a little private business on the side, matching employees and lonely hearts and collectors with the objects of their desire. She’s sort of a fixer, but she ignores her own needs until hero Benton Gray comes along. Here’s what he thinks after they’ve worked side-by-side for a week:

Ben could see Evie’s breath in the air as she stomped in irritation at the curb. She reminded him a little of an unbroken thoroughbred, all lean lines and attitude. But according to her, she’d never be broken to bridle.

Ben wouldn’t even bother trying.

Evie was a shrew. A confirmed spinster. True, she could be soft-hearted with all her cases of people to place and protect. He’d now seen the drawers full of begging letters for which she took no coin. What kind of businesswoman was she? She was more like some demented fairy godmother.

Anyone looking less fairy-like would be hard to find. Although perhaps his mother’s tales of sweet, inoffensive winged creatures dancing at the bottom of the garden were at odds with some of the older legends. Some fairies were spiteful—clever and capricious, quick to trick the unsuspecting innocent into giving up their best chance for happiness. Or even their babies. Ben drew the line at thinking Evie would kidnap a child, but he could see her meting out her own brand of justice from her Fairy Court in solemn pronouncements and punishing seduction.
Right now she wasn’t speaking to him, not even thanking him as he helped her into the hack. Which he shouldn’t have done, as she was still in her trousered disguise. The merchants on the street would think it very odd.

The street lights had been turned on, and Ben saw people locking up and scurrying home to their suppers. The List’s office was dark, the new window glimmering in the gaslight. A raggedy girl selling roasted chestnuts tended the flames on her brazier at the corner, and if Ben weren’t so full he would have asked the driver to stop. The carriage lurched through the thick evening traffic, the familiar sounds and smells of London Ben’s only stimulation. Evie seemed determined to ignore him despite their working so seamlessly together just hours before. How was it that the glow of their mutual accomplishment had dimmed so suddenly? One minute they’d been chuckling over their ale, and the next Evie looked ready to chuck him out in the street.

He’d insulted her independence, he supposed, but really, she was just a lady beneath her clothes, even if she chose not to act like one. She might have a walking stick and be taller than the average man, but it wasn’t as if she fenced and boxed and built up her slender limbs. Anything could happen to her as she walked the chill streets of London. Anything at all.
Yesterday it was the shattered window, when she wasn’t even out in the elements. What if she’d been cut by flying glass, or worse yet, conked on the head with the brick?

Perhaps some sense might have been knocked into her, but Ben doubted it. She was the most stubborn, most vexing creature he’d ever met. His usual tricks to charm women were proving useless, but damn him if he was going to sit across from her like a lump as she shot daggers at him the whole way home. So he took a time-tested, easy route.

“I’m sorry.”

“What for?” she asked, suspicious.

Ben grinned. “I don’t really know. It seemed like the right thing to say.”

Ben is an easy-going guy, and Evie is anything but. Her difficult childhood has honed her independence, and made her aware of injustice. She’s really a crusader, and Ben shows her he can be every bit as dedicated as she can, with especially deep pockets. Ben thinks the way to win Evie’s heart is through generous donations to her causes—but he really won it despite her resistance long ago. Kirkus Review called Lord Gray’s List “a charming, fun Regency romp that combines an innovative, compelling plot with characters that jump off the page and a hot, captivating romance that will tug at heartstrings.”

During the holiday season, a lot of people wonder what kind of difference they can make to those less fortunate. I support two local food banks all year, and wish I could do more. Wow, what if I’d won the recent big lottery? Think of the good I could have done! (Of course, I would have had to buy a ticket, LOL) What charity would you like to give unlimited support? I’ve got a signed trade paperback of Lord Gray’s List for one commenter, and a $25 donation to their cause.

As if I needed any reason to like Maggie more. I, obviously, am fully behind this giveaway. In fact, no need to hang around. The winner is drawn… and it is ME! (And you know what’s sad? I had a moment’s pause and wondered “is that grammatically correct?” And then I thought “damned if I know – that was my worst subject and it’s my blog so I can mess up if I want to. And feel stupid. Which is why I’m drawing so much attention to it.)

… I’m never formatting posts ever again. I also thought about deleting all/most of this in the extremely lengthy times I had to wait while my broken computer chugged along… but I figured I’d leave it so you guys know what I’m like with less of a filter. You see why I schedule so many guest posts? It’s to save you from me. And while I was doing this I saw the next cover is up, so here’s Captain Durant’s Countess – you’re welcome. :P

And you know – speaking of saving and all, in a real way – what charity would you wish to donate to? Inquiring minds want to know! (Not just for the usual, but hey – SMSG13, 14, and so on will be upon us sooner than we think!)

Oh and, uh, for anyone who might be wondering – no, I’m not the winner. I was joking. It’s going to be one of you.

#SMSG12 Challenges and Giveaways!

What am I talking about? First of all, SMSG = Social Media for Social Good; my charity:water fundraiser. The 12 stands for ’12… because it’s 2012 of course. :D

First of all, there are a few challenges. If 50 bloggers (or readers) donate, I’m going to increase my donation by $25, for a total of $325. I really hope we get this – and any amount counts. So if you give $1, that counts!

Next, Jax Cassidy said if 50 of her friends give, she’ll double her donation, for a grand total of $140! Awesome! (I asked her, and “her friends” is to be interpreted as “however I want.” … and I want it to be anyone who knows her, has met her, or ever heard of her. ;D

There are a few giveaways going on. (The “log in” is just your name and email – so I know who won.) Continue reading

Water Changes Everything

It’s my third annual Social Media for Social Good (SMSG) fundraising drive. Today is Make a Difference Day, and this is how I’m choosing to do it. Some of you might have heard of charity:water when Rachel Beckwith’s tragic story made the news. She was an amazing little nine year old, and you can read more of what happened here. I dare you not to cry.

I spent a lot of time researching reputable international charities, and I love that charity:water is so transparent. I think it’ll be fun to check what our little ALBTALBS drive does too.

Did you know that:

  • 100% of all public donations directly fund water projects, and they prove every dollar using photos and GPS coordinates on a map
  • 800 million people around the world don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water
  • That is one out of every nine people
  • More people die from lack of clean water and sanitation each year than are killed by all forms of violence, including war
  • 90% of the deaths that result from diarrheal disease occur in children under five
  • About every nineteen seconds a mother loses her child to a water related illness
  • In sub-Saharan Africa 16 million hours each day are spent by women collecting water. This takes time away from work, school, and family.
  • 10% of disease could be reduced with improved access to clean water, sanitation, hygiene education, and water resource management.
  • $1 invested in water becomes $4-12 dollars for the local economy
  • Communities choose a small group of people to oversee each completed charity: water project. Equal numbers of men and women are encouraged to be included. These Water Committees are often the first chance women have to take on elected leadership roles.
  • The WHO reports that over 3.6% of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • Feeding our world takes up to 90% of our freshwater withdrawals but many people in developing nations still don’t have access to enough water for irrigation.
  • Just $20 $65 can provide one person with a clean water project in his/her village

We can make a huge difference.

I know it’s difficult to give, but I’m asking everyone to do what they can. And if you can’t – help spread the word. This is a comment drive, so even just leaving a comment and having one friend do the same helps. Believe me – I know it’s hard out there. I know what it’s like to make well under the poverty rate. I still do. Which is why I’m doing something where everyone can get involved.

These people have already given:

Pledges:

  • I’m going to give $300 if we reach 1,000 comments.
  • Cecilia Grant will give $1 per comment up to 100 comments
  • The Romance Man will give $50 when we reach 250 comments will match my $300 if we get to 1,000 comments!!!
  • C2 will give $150 when we reach 500 comments
  • Farrah Rochon will give $10 for every 100 comments

You can see who all the wonderful, generous people who donated are on the campaign page. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Won’t you join us?

And in the spirit of friendly competition … I’m asking – challenging – 50 bloggers to donate. Even if it’s $1. I think we can do it. (In fact – I’d love to see more bloggers donate than authors. How’s that for competition? But a concrete goal of 50.)
And if privacy is a concern, you can donate anonymously. *coughs* Someone *coughs* already donated $50 to check that out. :)

Let’s do this!

*ETA: I have a specific campaign created for the romance community: http://mycharitywater.org/albtalbs if you’d like to donate. Also, if you’re donating, I would love to add you to the list, to let other people know (peer pressure! :D ) and to give you a shout out. Please feel free to email me with any questions, or to talk about whether or not you want your name/amount to be listed. Thank you!!!

Also, for clarification, my SMSG drives go on for a month. I figure that’s enough time for word to be spread and people to budget what they can to donate. For all of us in the states, it’s a tax deductible charitable donation! (For our international friends, I would look into that too.)

You can check out the numerous giveaways here. To enter, just use your comment url and you’re done!