Recently at church, my four-year-old son Daniel was challenged to raise money for a good cause. He wasn't just to go around asking for money; he was to do something to earn the money. The goal was not only to help others, but to teach the children the value of hard work.
Since all of West Virginia is in Appalachia (much of it distressed) and we work with several organizations there, we followed the recent water crisis there with great interest (and sadness).
To recap: In January 2014, 10,000 gallons MCHM, a chemical used to process coal, and an unknown amount of PPH, spilled into West Virginia’s Elk River upstream from a municipal water intake serving nine West Virginia counties. It left 300,000 people unsure about their water and reportedly sent around 400 people to the hospital. Even though people are being told the water is "safe," many still have concerns.
Often when I work I have the television on in the background. For some odd reason, it helps me concentrate more. I put on shows like documentaries or talk shows that I can just listen to and don't have to actually give any visual attention.
Today while working, I had on reruns of Oprah interviews. One of the people she was interviewing was Lady Gaga and her family. As I listened to the interview something actually stopped me typing mid-sentence. It was something Lady Gaga said:
Wow. We have some AMAZING news! The Monkey Do Project is up for a $25,000 grant from FedEx. (I.KNOW.)
Since we heard the news, my mind has been reeling. I mean, can you imaginewhat we can do with $25,000?!
Wow. Can you believe how fast 2013 flew by?
Not long ago, I asked one of our board members when we started The Monkey Do Project. (It was Spring 2012, by the way.) I really couldn't remember. When you're in the proverbial trenches everyday focusing on helping communities in need, you tend to lose track of things like "when we started" and "how much we've done."
In September, we told you about how we visited Clay, West Virginia. The needs were so great there and the food bank was empty. This meant an already bad situation of people not being able to afford food was even worse because they had nowhere to turn to get food. When the food banks are empty, where do you go? The answer is sadly, nowhere.
The Monkey Do Project left that trip with a pledge to help fill that food bank each and every month for as long as they needed.
Something has been bothering me lately. When you choose to help those in need the United States there is always a group of people who want to push back. You think that you area doing something good, but for every one person you help there are always 10 people waiting to tell you that what you're doing (or how you're doing it) is wrong. Most of the time, I just ignore it. However, sometimes it beats you down and tonight I want to answer some of the repeat questions that I get about helping Appalachian Americans.
Today is "Giving Tuesday." If you're like me, you probably can't keep up! We have have Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We even have "Gray Thursday" now to encourage people to start spending even earlier on Thanksgiving! It's enough to make your head spin, right?
You may have noticed something on social media: people are "Fiving Out" their photos on Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness for #Monkeytober13. So, what's it all about anyway?
$5 Fills a Food Bank for an Entire Year
While working late one night on my personal blog, I had a sobering realization: If everyone who followed me on Twitter gave just $5, we could fill the empty Clay, West Virginia food bank for an entire year.
And then I had to stop what I was doing because ... WHOA. Now that's powerful.