Archive for the ‘Donation’ Category

In yesterday’s post I told you that Abby would introduce you to a scholar if you donate to the Michelle Sylvester Scholarship fund. Since she was still in the Peace Corps Regional House when I let her  know I had she was able to reply right away to tell me who my $20 would be sending to school for a year.  Here’s what she had to say:

This is Aminata Sow!

Aminata speaks Pulaar and lives in a compound with 30 other people – including her cousin, Hawa Ba, who is also an MSS recipient this year. Aminata is a great student, she’s very outspoken in class and is an active member of the English Club. In the future, Aminata wants to grow up to be a flight attendant. She likes math, and wants people who live in other countries to know that Senegal is a very peaceful country, that values “solidarity”. Whenever I stop by her village on my bike, Aminata always insists that I come by to see her family and have some tea.

I feel like I know this girl already. (And I asked Abby to tell her “No ngoolu daa”, which the Interwebs tells me is “Hello” in Pulaar) Notice that there’s no age given?  That’s because, apparently, not all Senegalese keep track of things like age.  I don’t think that’s particular to girls, but it may be.

If you’re interested in donating to the scholarship fund, you can use this form.  The directions say “*Under “Please use this box if you want to send a message of encouragement to this project’s volunteer” please enter “MSS Fund” followed by any encouragement you would like to pass along to the Volunteer”.  If you give her you email address and tell her you would like the bio of your scholar, she’d be glad to send you one.  Or if you leave a comment here with contact info I would be glad to send it along.  Just know that she doesn’t get to the Regional House every weekend, so you might wait a little while for your bio (but it will come).

If you’d like to find out ore about what it’s like to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, you can visit Abby’s blog, or her friend Emily’s “slightly more socially conscious” blog.


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I received an email from Abby today, about the Gender and Development fund she’s representing.  I want to share part of the email with you:

Anyway, I’m just writing because the gender and development organization that I’m a part of is sponsoring scholarships for 9 girls from my local middle school – girls attendance in schools drops off exponentially after primary school so there is a HUGE gender gap in school attendance. In my village, not a single one of the girls goes to middle school. Schools here aren’t free, so the Peace Corps has a Michelle Sylvester Scholarship fund (she’s an old volunteer who started the program back in the 90s). Each girl gets 10 mille, which is the equivalent of $20 per girl to go to school and get school supplies for one extra year. Our fundraising efforts are REALLY behind this year, and each volunteer only needed to raise $180 ($20 per girl, 9 girls total). I always feel really weird writing fundraising e-mails (especially because, due to how the grant is set up, I have actually no idea who has donated money), but if you wouldn’t mind sending this on to other people who may donate -in your offices or book clubs or whatever, that would be really awesome! And if you’ve already donated, THANK YOU! I love you all so much, and I wish I had a way to thank you more for everything.

*Under “Please use this box if you want to send a message of encouragement to this project’s volunteer” please enter “MSS Fund” followed by any encouragement you would like to pass along to the Volunteer.

Please consider donating.  If you like, leave a message here, and if you attach your email address Abby said she’d send a bio of the girl you’re funding.  I’ve funded one, and will share the bio here if she says it’s ok.


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Things Getting “Hairy”

Last week, my daughter and I donated our hair.


Nope, didn’t measure.  We clearly had more than the 8-10 inches required, so that’s good.  Didn’t ask for receipts or acknowledgements either.


This was her first time.  I’ve done it before.  We sent our donations to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, though I have donated to Locks of Love in the past. I do this every few years, and I do the research every few years.

About non profits and pseudo controversy

Every time, I hear the same ‘buzz’ about Locks of Love.  The “warehouses of hair” nonsense.  Allegations that they make some outrageous profit.  Complaints that the hair doesn’t go to kids with cancer.  Complaints that they charge thousands of dollars to make wigs for adults.  The implication that there is something untoward and misleading about the organization.

Um… no.  Locks of Love explains exactly what they do on their website.  If it’s not what “everybody knows” they say they do…  um…  then everybody is wrong.  The organization actually has very good Charity Navigator and Guidestar ratings. They spend very little on fundraising and awareness campaigns, so if the ‘buzz’ out there it wrong, the odds are good that buzz is from well meaning contributors, not deceitful practices.  Years ago, when I did my research, I tracked the ‘warehouse full of hair’ stories down to one newspaper account of a boutique with a box in the back of pony tails they hadn’t bothered to send in for some ridiculous numbers of years.

This time, I actually did find some documentation of possible concerns.  Nonprofit Investigator actually does have concerns about the amount of hair donations vs. the number of wigs produced.  It took some digging to find what Locks of Love says in response, which comes down to ‘we only got 317 requests that year, and we make scalp prosthesis, not wigs…’.    She also said that the nonprofit at this point in time would rather have cash donations than hair.  So, yeah, not where I’m donating this time around, because I’m looking for a place to donate hair, not cash.  She then went on to make snide comments about NPI’s “agenda”, which loses some sympathy from me. I believe LoL is doing a good job, for the right reasons.  I believe the same of NPI.  Take criticism, it’s important.  I would also be a little bit more comfortable if they did track donations.  Even though they are not that large a cash value compared to what the organization does, they are significant to those of us who donate hair.

I will be donating blood to the Red Cross next week.  I used to donate platelets, but apparently, due to new technology and childbearing, that’s no longer appropriate for me.

The thing is, I’ve seen similar criticism about the Red Cross.  I mean, they gasp take money for the blood I gave for free.  How DARE they!  The greed!

I’m against greed, and people profiting from my honest generosity, but let’s be real here.

Here’s what happens when I give blood:

  • I go to a permanent location (I assume they pay for rent and electricity)
  • I check in, either with a volunteer (no cost) or on a laptop (one time investment plus wi-fi)
  • I read the required literature on safety and what to expect (copying cost, probably but not necessarily written by professional)
  • I wait in the waiting room (there are magazines available, though I usually have a book or my knitting.  Magazine subscriptions cost money).
  • I am screened (computer equipment, trained professional, medical equipment and supplies)
  • I am seated (specialized medical chair, sterile needle and collection bag, extensive labeling)
  • A medical professional takes my blood (I really hope they pay competitive wages, because it sucks to donate blood and have a massive bruise for a week)
  • I am given cookies and juice (as far as I know they are bought, not donated)

Then the blood is tested (extensively), filtered, refrigerated and transported.

Yes, I donate the blood.  That doesn’t mean it should be free.  They used to buy blood rather than asking for donations, but the people who sold their blood were often motivated by desperation, not altruism, and had a higher than normal for the population at large to be ill or addicted (two things which might lead someone to sell their body parts…)

Non-profit doesn’t mean free.  It means that the organization makes enough money to cover it’s day to day costs.

Sorry for the rant, it’s just a pet peeve of mine.

Next Likely Time Donation

For a while I volunteered at the local Job Corps center, tutoring young adults in basic literacy and math.  It was an interesting and rewarding experience (though sometimes frustrating).  That particular program closed down, and I’ve been looking for other local opportunities which fit in with my availability and abilities.  I’ve stumbled upon Project Knitwell, which involves volunteers teaching patients, their families and their medical providers how to knit.  I sent an email last Friday inquiring about volunteer opportunities, and today I learned that the next training session is tomorrow.  If I’d had a week lead time I could have gone down and done it, as it is, I’m on their contact list for the next session.    It sounds interesting and promising, and maybe I’ll end up volunteering there.


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