Charity

You may have read or heard about the $650,000 Karen Klein is getting. It’s for her to have a vacation, after all. And that kind of gift is not the sort of thing you just ignore.

 

Ah, but if you’ve missed the story–feel good as it is–you may not know the details: She’s a 68-year-old school bus monitor in a suburb of Rochester, NY. One day, a camera phone video went viral with her being essentially bullied by some seventh graders. To be fair, the things the kids were mean, disrespectful, despicable, and moreover, truly stupid. In fact, I’m not even going to link to that video here because it’s just difficult to watch kids work to tear down an apparently nice woman.

 

The upshot is this: the communal mob that is the internet got together in the hopes of crowd-sourcing a few thousand dollars to give as a gift to this woman so she could have a nice vacation away from these idiotic kids. Instead, they’ve raised $650,000. In fact, it’s to the point where the woman is asking what she’s going to do with that much money.

 

I know. It’s a nice problem to have. It’s a great gesture, and the woman is certainly deserving of something. But $650,000? Can’t we control ourselves?

 

But it got me thinking: Aren’t there other things people could be doing with their money? I mean, couldn’t we crowd-source some federal deficit reduction? Pick up a couple million to pay for some seats and the goalposts in the new Vikings stadium?

 

Did anyone set up a similar fundraiser on one of those internet fundraising sites to help the people in Duluth and the areas around there who were nearly washed off the map? Oh sure, the Red Cross put their fundraising-by-text message fundraising plan into effect, and I’m sure it has helped, but the state, county and city are going to need buckets full of money to help recover from that mess.

 

There was the six-year-old who sent his life savings ($3.36) to an NFL player to try to convince him to resign with the New York Giants instead of the San Francisco 49ers. (Footnote: it didn’t help, the player is playing in San Fran next year, but took the kid to bounce in a bunch of bouncy houses to thank him for the gesture. He did get the money back). But the important point there is that even the six-year-old knows that money is the real motivator here. Not actions. Not words.

 

Because when you get right down to it, you can’t build a new road that’s been washed out, play football, build a stadium, or go on vacation without paying someone to help make it happen.

 

So here’s an idea I had today: I’ll lay on the sob story, maybe even get the viral video shot an posted, about how my wife just finished her masters program (in children, youth and family ministry) after five years, and we’ve paid for it ourselves, so all of us really sacrificed for that. And how it’s been a tough year at work, and I really need these two weeks locked in a car with my family to preserve whatever sanity I have left. And, with sobs and a bloodshot gaze right into the camera, how I’ve never taken my family on a really good vacation–heck, any kind of real vacation at all.

 

I’ll point out that we’ve committed to a road trip to San Francisco where we’ll have lodging paid for because Jenni will be at a conference. I’ll emphasize how this is an amazing opportunity for us, and we’d be stupid to miss out on it. But for the remaining 10 days of the trip, we’ll be on our own, showing the kids the great American west from the windows of our minivan.

 

Yes, travelling in our minivan, which needs some work before we leave, so we need some money for that, but you’d be ever so good if you could gift us with $40,000 to buy a brand new one for the trip…Nothing really fancy, you understand, because we’d appreciate anything, but preferably with those video screens in the back so the kids can watch videos when they’re not looking out of the tinted windows, and cruise control, and air conditioning, a nice stereo, heated seats, three-zone climate control. But I can live without the backup camera and GPS. My phone has a GPS.

 

Oh, and don’t forget the gas. It might not hit the threatened $5 per gallon mark, but it’s still $3.50. And minivans aren’t exactly hybrids. If you get my meaning.

 

And every night is a new town and a new stop along the way. And hotels don’t come cheap, you know. Especially when you’ve got five people and it’s a challenge to find places that sleep five to a room. At least not the cheap places. And really, the kids are going to want a pool to help unwind after the long day on the road.

 

Have I mentioned that the aforementioned kids are teenagers and pre-teens? Have I mentioned that they go through food like they’ve just been released from prison? And I can’t possibly be expected to pack sandwiches for 14 days of travel, can I? At least bless us with the ability to eat at some of the fine local eateries along the way. Nothing extravagant, just a good sampling of the local fare.

 

We’ll need some spending money, of course, because souvenirs are never cheap. And visiting landmarks and national parks and all of that has its price. And we’ll probably have to tip some people along the way. Or pay our way out of a speeding ticket.

 

So here you go, my official request for donations from the crowd-sourced web: help fund our trip. We’re only looking for a few tens of thousands of dollars. or just tens of thousands. Or thousands. I guess I’m not fussy. Show me some interest and I’ll find and put up the website to raise the funds. Heck, we’ll even post here from me and the kids and maybe even Jenni with notes and pictures and videos from the road, tell you about what the kids have discovered, and what five-star restaurant we’ve eaten at that evening, and what movie everyone watched in the back of the car that day. Maybe if the fundraising threshold allows for it, we’ll get a hotel with free wi-fi so we can Skype some of you high donors with our personal 1-to-1 reflections of the American west. We can offer sponsorships for each leg of the trip, if the price is right. If you contribute at the Platinum level, I’ll Ustream the whole damned trip for you. Well, except for those times I’m sleeping or in the shower in our hotel room on the concierge level of the hotel. It’ll be like sitting with us in the new van.

 

Come on, internet! I know you’ve got it in you! Crowd-source me a getaway! Show me some love! Give me some money! Leave me a comment telling me how much you’ll pledge and how to get a hold of you! Do it now! We’re leaving in mid-August!

 

Thank you. I love you all.

 

See you tomorrow.