I've always been a philanthropic person. As a child, I spent many nights setting tables and serving food at fundraising dinners. In college, I joined a dance company that volunteered with various organizations and also donated all the proceeds from its annual show to charity. But when a friend recently dared me to douse myself in ice water to benefit the ALS Association, I had some hesitations.
Now, before you judge, I'm not one of those haters who thinks the dare does nothing for the cause. There's no denying that the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought a lot of awareness to a disease that hasn't gotten much media attention in the past. Plus, it doesn't hurt that some sexy celebs have taken on the challenge (I'm talking about you, Benedict Cumberbatch). And clearly, the goal to raise money hasn't been lost in the sea of viral videos. Since the challenge began, the ALS Association has received more than $50 million in donations. What bothers me is that there are other charities that could benefit from the money. Some, sooner than others.
While we all associate the Ice Bucket Challenge with ALS, it actually began without a specific affiliate. (In fact, it just started as a way for kids to fight boredom, but that's besides the point.) The concept was the same — dump a bucket of ice water on your head, nominate others to do the same, donate if you don't complete within 24 hours — but people could choose the charity they wanted to donate to, be it something small like a local food bank or something larger like the American Cancer Society. Yet somewhere along the way, the all-inclusive dare became centered on one disease and organization. While that's great for the ALS Association, imagine how many other charities (and, in turn, other people) we could have helped had we stuck to the original rules. For example, a $100 donation to a food bank can feed roughly 455 people. Or, that small sum can contribute to the $2 million a day it takes to run St. Jude Children's Hospital.
I know I am not alone in these thoughts. When Broadway star Alan Cumming took on the challenge, he asked that people "use that focus and passion in other areas of life," like putting an end to hate crimes or to lowering the cost of health care so "we don't have to throw buckets of ice on our heads to raise money." Comedian Orlando Jones used the opportunity to bring attention to the troubles plaguing Ferguson, MO.
So when it was my turn to freeze for a cause, I decided it was time to spread the wealth and awareness. I chose to donate my $100 to Feed Ferguson, a fundraising page dedicated to feeding the students of Ferguson who have gone hungry because of the riots. These people, or rather, these children, need help now, but unfortunately, not many people are willing to get wet for them. (As an aside, I also donated $25 to the ALS Association since that's what I was dared to do.)
I'm not saying the ALS Association doesn't need or deserve money. Rather, I'm pointing out that there are thousands of other organizations that could benefit from a few extra bucks and a lot more awareness. So I challenge everyone who hasn't taken on the Ice Bucket Challenge to do it, but return to the original rules. Pick a charity that isn't getting the social media support or one that holds a special place in your heart. Lend a helping hand (and yes, some money) to everyone who needs it, and not just those with the most star-studded supporters.
Source: Facebook user Leah Rocketto