Using Social Media for Good to Make a Difference: Fighting ALS, Ebola, and for Child Refugees

​Social Media for Social Good, our annual charity campaign is in its fifth year. Can you believe that? I know I’ve been more absent than not this year, so unlike the previous years, SMSG14 will be more conversational. I promised Lori in 2012 that ALS would be the focus, and I’m definitely including it, but with so much else going on this year, a few months ago I decided to add Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres; MSF) because of the Ebola crisis, ​and then I saw a report on Syrian child refugees, so we’re adding UNICEF as well. *ETA I specifically chose to start SMSG14 on Make a Difference Day. :)

On ALS from Lori:

This year awareness has been increased so much by the #IceBucketChallenge. It’s awesome that so many who didn’t know anything about ALS are sharing and caring. But the real need is for donations. For research for a cure – and we are closer than ever.

I will walk this year with a mix of sadness and hope. My sister-in-law Sue lost her battle with ALS in March 2013, but I am determined to help fund research for a cure or treatment. So many more are still living with ALS, and we must do all we can to support them.

As a respiratory therapist, I took care of my first ALS patient in 1994, when the amazing Mr. Hoang and his family touched my life. Their strength, courage and humor never ceased to amaze me. I was privileged to know them and be a part of Mr. Hoang’s care team.

Fast-forward 15 years, and our own family was devastated to learn that my brother’s wife Sue was diagnosed. Her spirit and fight, and her resolve to beat this disease filled me with awe. She was an amazing woman, and together with my brother, raised two amazing daughters. I am so privileged that she was my sister for 30 years.

You can find information about Ebola and Child Refugees on both the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and UNICEF “Humanitarian Issues/Crisis” pages respectively. You might want to look and the following is why.

Some facts on Ebola and MSF:

  • The Ebola outbreak was officially declared on March 22, 2014.
  • MSF is currently active in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, with six Ebola case management centers
  • If contracted, Ebola is one of the world’s most deadly diseases. It is a highly infectious virus that can kill up to 90 percent of the people who catch it.
  • According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report issued October 15, 2014, the mortality rate for Ebola cases in West Africa is nearly 50%
  • The situation is so dire the first ever UN emergency health mission, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) has been set up
  • The WHO also says the situation in Africa is deteriorating.
  • MSF has been the first — and often only — line of defense against Ebola in West Africa.

There is hope.

  • Nigera was officially declared Ebola free on October 20, 2014.
  • In 2007, MSF entirely contained an epidemic of Ebola in Uganda.

They need our help. You can read one MSF worker’s account here. From the beginning I’ve been hearing the most about MSF doing work on the ground, so that’s why I picked MSF over other organizations at this time.

And this is why I also decided to add UNICEF. I saw a report and just cried my eyes out.

I have a major soft spot for children, and seeing ones who are so young – 10 years old or younger – working all day out in the field, then excited to go to school … I had to help make that happen.

  • A UN report back from February found that more than 10,000 children have been killed.
  • Syrian children have been sexually abused and tortured, used as human shields and recruited as child soldiers.
  • As of July 7, 2014, 6.5 million Syrian children—an increase of more than two million compared to last year—now need immediate humanitarian assistance.
  • More than 8,000 children have arrived at Syria’s borders without their parents.
  • More than 37,000 Syrian babies have been born as refugees. You can see more on a UNICEF infographic here.
  • A Doctor's Account
  • That is what a doctor is saying about their situation. From February. I cannot imagine the situation has gotten any better. Especially since they said they were running out of funds.
  • $15 can buy pencils and notebooks for an entire classroom, $4 can buy a text book for a child, $4 can buy a story book for a child

There’s so much more to say and so much more information out there, but I just wanted to share a little bit about each. If you have additional information please feel free to share. I’d love to learn about what’s going on and more charities.

I definitely understand giving, and giving quietly. I know it’s not about the adulation you get. I’m making this public though, and encouraging more to do the same because I believe it does spur people to give. (Like the opposite of public shaming!) I also explain why we’re doing a comment drive. I know it’s still tough for so many. If you can’t afford to give, you can still help! Each comment raises money, so comment away. Send your friends, family, enemies. Your pets, anyone! *ETA: Also if you donate but don’t want your name or amount given listed would you please email me to let me know so I can add the amount to the tally? Thank you! <3

I’m down for $1,130. (My break down is $500 for Doctors Without Borders, $315 to the ALS Walk, and $315 to UNICEF)
Amara Royce is making a pledge of 25¢ per comment
Katje is giving $25 + 1¢ per comment to Doctors Without Borders
Melanie and Loupe are going in together for 25¢ per comment
Lucy Monroe is down for $500, and she’ll give an additional $100 when we reach 500 comments
Ayelet Waldman is matching dollar for dollar donations to Doctors Without Borders across all her social media platforms up to $2,000
Laura K. Curtis is donating $10 per comment up to $100

You can donate to ALS at various places, such as the ALSA. This is Lori’s Walk Page.

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I contacted Doctors Without Borders about setting up a campaign but have yet to hear back, so if that changes, I’ll update here. For now though, donate here. You can also donate through UNICEF and right now (at least for those in the USA your donation will be matched dollar for dollar by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.)

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UNICEF donations to Syrian children can be made here. For those in the USA, this is a direct donation page.

Won’t you join us? We can do so many amazing things!
And thank you all for your generosity and support.

(I’d also like to note since all of these are non-profit charitable organizations, your donations are tax deductible. Also, considering seeing if your employer will match your donation!)

Let’s do this!

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!