Monday, April 14, 2008

Couch Cushion Coins

I have a thing for teeny tiny charities, because you just know the person behind the effort is putting their heart and soul into it. So when I stumbled across Feed Villages, it hit all of my happy buttons: 100% of the money goes to the program, one girl in Hawaii is behind the whole thing, there's a sustainability component involved, the onsite management is local not foreign, and most of the employment opportunities are focused on women. Oh yes, and they feed poor kids in Kenya for 50 cents. You read that right - 50 cents, and there's no minimum donation. You'll probably find at least that much change buried amongst your couch cushions.

Actually, that 50 cents does quite a lot more than provide a lunch. It supports the development of local organic farming co-operatives that grow food for the lunches and for income. This project is partnered with Village Volunteers, whose larger efforts train women in farming methods, provide microfinance, and all kinds of other admirable things. I like their sustainability approach and their preference for harnessing local talent, but it looks like a huge portion of their funding comes from fees for voluntourism programs. Just wait until I have a moment to expound upon the rise of that concept...the jury in my head is still out on whether the pros outweigh the cons. But I digress.

So I took a $10 bill out of my "To Be Donated" jar and mailed it off to Elana Greene in Hawaii with a note to treat 20 kids to lunch on me. She kindly confirmed receipt by email and updated me on the development of the program: a couple of acres of land have been purchased with the assistance of Village Volunteers to get a community garden going in the first step towards her goal to feed 200,000 African children (i.e. raise $100,000). I think I might have to treat 40 next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time for this one. Maybe a few next times.

Charitable Act of the Day: Ordered raw materials and practiced sewing for a project I will write about very soon. I haven't sewn since I was in the Brownies. The only thing I've learned so far is that I should get a sewing machine.

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