I am, of course, referring to the earthquake in Japan that has, among other things, literally shaken the entire world. We're now spinning a tiny bit differently on our axis. Meanwhile, the planet's philanthropic agencies are mobilizing to help with this latest in what is a suspiciously long string of natural disasters.
(Seriously, it's like the planet itself is throwing tantrums and we can't take it anywhere.)
I promised a few people that today's blog post would feature ways that the average you and me can be part of the relief effort. What I want to do is to try to steer away from the usual names, like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. These are terrific organizations and definitely worth of our support, so don't think I'm telling you not to give to them. No, what I'm going to try to share with you are smaller, possibly weirder things that you can do to participate. Please share this with anyone who might be interested.
- First up: My pals Tracy and DeBray of Catena Comics are offering a downloadable desktop image of Belle, one of the characters from the Catena strip, for the consideration of $1 (or more). All money generated from these downloads will be donated to Americares, which is working directly with the relief effort. DeBray has nice clear instructions spelled out on the Catena website of how to go about doing this.
- Once again the LiveJournal community has stepped up to the plate to conduct an auction of art, writing, and other handiworks to raise money. If you have an LJ account, head over to Help Japan for the details.
- Do you play one of those Zynga "ville" games on Facebook? I used to be a FarmVille resident but I left. However, if you're still there, you can help by purchasing some virtual crops. Zynga has joined forces with Save the Children's Japan Earthquake Tsunami Emergency Fund, and they're asking their users to donate money through the purchase of virtual goods. All of the money from the purchase of sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille, or kobe cows in FrontierVille will go towards Save the Children’s efforts to provide relief in the Pacific.
- If you're on Twitter, you definitely want to check out this post in their blog, which lists all the different ways you can use your Twitter account to spread accurate information and pass on news. I also recommend following the Twitter accounts of Pauley Perrette, the adorable actress who plays Abby on NCIS, and George Takei, aka Mr. Sulu. Pauley stayed up late when the earthquake hit, sharing the latest details and revealing just what a soft-hearted sweetie she is. Mr. Takei, meanwhile, is consistently sharing links to news posts and footage of the aftermath of the quake. Both have been inspirational resources and I tip my hat to them.
- Mashable.com reports that AT&T and Verizon will be providing free calls and texts for their American customers to and from Japan all throughout the month of March, to make it easier to contact loved ones over there. Check out that article for details, and also to get the number to which you can text a donation to the Red Cross.
- If you have a website of your own, you can help people locate missing loved ones. Check out Google's People Finder and see how to embed it on your website.
- The website Good.is has published a list of other ways to help Japan. Check out their links to where you can purchase a supportive t-shirt and poster, and some suggestions for slightly offbeat places where you can donate money.
- Remember that unfortunately, while situations like the Japanese earthquake do bring out the best in a lot of people, they can bring out the worst in a lot of others. Don't give indiscriminately! It's a good idea to read this Good Intents article about what to do or not do regarding disaster relief donations. Also, before giving money to any charity you don't recognize, be sure to check them out with Charity Navigator so you don't get scammed by some phony.
- And finally...spread the word about this blog post.
Japan seems awfully far away to me. I wish I could do more. But the people affected by this devastation have been on my mind and in my heart since it happened, and I hope that this post does them some good.
Special thanks to the people at Mashable.com, the people at Good.is, Tracy and DeBray Bailey, Pauley Perrette, George Takei, and the entire internet community at large for their contributions to this post.