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September 7, 2005

Just do it

People commit some ridiculous acts for charity—going extreme distances or making sacrifices, and launching door-to-door crusades for pledges. It’s always, “I’ll do ‘X crazy thing’ if you donate to ‘X organization’.” And as a college student, these kinds of fundraisers usually work much better than scraping my backpack for loose change.

I’m running the Chicago Marathon in October, so naturally, that was the first thing that came to my mind in response to Hurricane Katrina: I’ll run 26.2 miles if you donate to the Red Cross Relief Fund.

But then I thought—Why would someone need my pledge in order to donate to hurricane victims? Suppose I didn’t run 26.2 miles… “Oh, sorry, Nicole. You stopped at 25. I’ll need that check back.”

Unlike other charitable campaigns, there is no need to raise awareness here. We all know what’s going on, and we shouldn’t need incentive to help. This is not about parading around with banners or standing on our heads with a donation can. If it works for you to write a check, do it. If you have boxes of clothes lying around, send them. Personally, I’m donating my used running shoes to an organization called Share Your Soles, www.shareyoursoles.org.  But whatever you do, don’t wait around for some aspiring marathon runner to tap you on the back.

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July 1, 2005

Lutheran luggage rack?

Hi, I’m Nicole, The Lutheran’s editorial intern for the summer. So far I’ve only been here for two weeks, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but already this position has given me more than I’d imagined.

In balancing internships at two magazines, one at The Lutheran and the other at Windy City Sports, a Chicago magazine for amateur athletes, I’ve become fascinated by the scope of concern in people’s lives.
I’ll spend one day covering famine and dehydration in third-world Africa, and the next telling readers how to prevent from becoming dehydrated in the Chicago Triathlon. Yes, I am now faced with the task of portraying self-inflicted thirst to be as severe as a two-year drought.

Windy is an advertising glutton. The other day, my editor told me that our September issue is supposed to have two themes: women in sports and choosing the right health club. However, he said we would be focusing much more on health clubs, because “frankly, ‘women in sports’ doesn’t sell ads.”

In contrast, The Lutheran can feel like a luggage rack for emotional baggage. As I sit at my desk, writing about starving children in Liberia and civil war in Sudan, guilt that I’ve done nothing to help piles up faster than my assignments. I know it’s not uncommon to feel this way, but it doesn’t help to spend half of the week campaigning for Nike.

But I’m not complaining—and I’m not going to give up my internship with Windy. I think it’s healthy to face the sharp contrast between our personal worlds and the overwhelming problems in the rest of the world—even if we don’t drop everything we have and become missionaries. We can pray and send relief, but the way I see it, we’re not God and he doesn’t expect us to be.

I’m cutting myself off—at the risk of writing some sermon-like blog—but I just want to say that I feel blessed to have opportunity to work for The Lutheran. I’m looking forward to a great summer with an incredible staff!

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