Thursday, March 17, 2011

Update on the "Help Ron" Fundraiser : Iowa Fire Victim Progress Made

Vinyl lettering by DesignDivasGallery

I just wanted to say thank you for all the outpouring of donations and sincere concern that came forth from Etsians, our family, our friends, our readers , our fellow Etsy teams, and some Iowans during our "Help Ron" the Iowa Fire Victim who lost his home last August fundraiser launch. 

The spreadsheet proves that people care, in just a few days we hit 26% to goal. I want to remind you this is a public tally. The Donor Name Field can be edited by you at any time  and so you may wish to change your name or shop name to "ANONYMOUS" in the instance you wish to remain private or low key. Most of you added the names yourself so I assume you don't care. The spreadsheet will be up until we hit our initial goal.  It is mainly to ensure I am calculating right and haven't missed your donation.

So, I figured I'd give you an update on the progress thus far.

Reusable sandwich bag by WrapCycle, Fire Engine Style!

My original hopes were not just to raise money to assist Ron in improving his living conditions (which we are doing and I so thank you for that) but to raise awareness also. After numerous phone calls,  emails and letters, I think we made some progress.   In all of these letters and emails, I asked for clothing and shoe donations, aid to clean up his farm, aid in removing and RV that sits on his property, and neighborly support. Sadly the week his home burnt down there was a major flood, and so his house fire did not make the news as it normally does in most areas.

One reporter, kind enough to reply during her vacation, will investigate the situation and I hope that she may be able to shed light and bring exposure that Ron needs to reach fellow Iowans.

Fire Truck by NinDesign

I also found out some disturbing news. If you are a fire victim without insurance, aid usually comes first from the Red Cross, and second from any local or state non-profits that are willing to help.  If you are out of the locale of agencies in your area, or there are no agencies in your area that are set up to help fire victims, you are out of luck. The only other option is to go on state assistance and live in without a home.  Not many of us realize this until it happens to us.  I wish the Fire Departments had fundraisers to help Fire Victims, just a thought.  In this case, the kindness of strangers like us have helped in some way. (I suppose it's not too late to plea to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is it?)  

In talking to Ron, he was very appreciative of all we are doing, and did indicate that initially a debit card in the form of $250 was given to him by the Red Cross. 

Fire Engine, Large, by PoshPaints

Our Co-Leader had the ideas of approaching a lot of corporations for sponsorship.  I called a bunch inquiring, and I found out that many are willing to help people in need. However, they do not donate to private individuals for several reasons. One, they do not know the legitimacy of the individual case (thanks to many scams, they just won't do it.)  Two, they want donation and tax write offs which only come from  501-c3 Charity organization.

Etsy also advises that when donating or supporting a charity, to make sure it's a 501-3c one, so that you can rest assured that your money is not going to a scam or illegitimate cause.  A lot of special teams are formed to assist with certain charities, like "Etsy Angels" who choose a different cause each month. It is amazing to see how many charitable Etsians there are!  There are some going on right now to raise money for Japan via sending donations to the Red Cross. You can search by keyword search to find something that fits your charity needs.

So the next step with HELP RON is the hopes that the kind reporter can get a non profit to take up the cause, and have wonderful corporate sponsors come forward to help Ron rebuild his life.

First Light by MaiAutumn

Extreme Makeover required a 19 page application, most of it waivers for filming, and focuses on families in need.  Although I sent photos and information, I think that it won't make it very far.  Still, I created a Facebook page that you can "LIKE" for added exposure in hopes that someone who views it can do something. 

Thank you for continuing to spread the word and send Ron's story to any Iowa agencies or private individuals that you think may have resources to help.  If you do decide to spread the story, you can use the Facebook Community page set up for Ron as it has a synopsis of the circumstances surrounding the cause. That way they can contact Ron directly.

I have done most of what I can do from here, so far away, and will continue to send donations Ron's way as they come in.   Thank you for all your support, for bringing it to me in the first place, and thanks for restoring my faith that some people, like us, do care about strangers.


Janet said...

You're truly amazing. What a good heart you have.

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