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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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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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