Centerstage Chicago: Determined to make "But South Asia is so far I can't help" as pathetic an excuse as "My dog ate my homework." Here's a rundown of more than enough ways to provide disaster relief from your corner of the world:
1. Rock the nighttime world! No, we aren't urging you to be an insensitive, Jagerbomb-downing drunk. We're recommended you channel that bar/restaurant budget to a venue with a cause:
A fundraiser to benefit the American Red Cross International Response Fund will take place in a fitting location: Chicago's largest nightclub (let's pack 'em in). With a goal of raising at least $50,000, Excalibur will host a complementary dinner buffet, backed by the music of The Bandoleros, an eclectic world music group, from 7-11 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 13. The $20 contributor level gets you general admission; the $100 sustaining level includes seating, and the $500 benefactor level includes VIP area admission and bottle service.
Cans Bar & Canteen
Pay $10 admission on Friday, Jan 14., with proceeds to benefit the American Red Cross International Response Fund. Entry includes appetizers, $1 Bud and Bud Light cans and $3 Michelob Light.
For the week running Sunday, Jan. 16 to Saturday, Jan. 22, $2 of each dinner bill will be donatedto Action Against Hunger.
Chicago's own SushiSamba Rio, along with its three other locations, has partnered with Action Against Hunger to found the Restaurants Against Hunger Tsunami Relief Fund. Throughout the month of January all SushiSamba restaurants will donate one percent of their food and beverage sales to the endowment, as well as lead a campaign to locate other restaurants across the nation to donate.
2. Give without leaving the comforts of home. Throw a party from the comforts of your own casa. Charge your friends and neighbors $25 a pop to attend (unless you hang with high rollers; up entry fee accordingly). Team up with your roommates or a few friends to host, and consider the cost of liquor your donation. You can pull off a memorable party for a great cause with little more than a keg, a handle of Tanqueray and some limes. Up the class factor with a cheese and cracker spread ($20 will do some damage at Trader Joe's).
3. Take in a film. Attend special screening of "Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey at the Navy Pier IMAX Theatre; 89 percent of the proceeds will benefit CARE. Post-screening, you'll enjoy a live performance by an international ensemble of percussionists. The event takes place Thursday, Jan. 20 at 6:45 p.m. Purchase the $12 tickets at the box office or online. Your $12 contribution will buy one set of bedding, one sarong, one shirt and three bars of soap.
The film has garnered rave reviews for its large-format visuals: This toe-tapping experience that explores a diverse set of percussive traditions from from Taiko drummers in Japan to gumboot dancers in South Africa to English bell ringers and more. Read more.>
4. Dress well. Label mavens can head to Von Dutch and order a long- or short-sleeve Tsunami Relief T-shirt ($34 and $29, respectively); all profits benefit Operation USA.
5. Go online and make a donation. You've certainly got your pick of choices (and this is just a smattering):
ASHA for Education
This action group for basic education in India has raised nearly $140,000 to aid the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and the Andaman and Nicobar islands, where an estimated 6,000 have been killed and thousands more are homeless and without access to clean water, shelter, food or clothing.
Church World Service
Looking to make a faith-based response? Or just a response in general? This international humanitarian agency, supported in part by 36 U.S. religious denominations, is working toward the $5 million mark. All donations benefit the victims of Southeast Asia.
Lutheran World Relief
"Wave of Giving: A Rebuilding Campaign for South Asia," generated more than $4 million in its first two days. Up that amount by making a donation; funds go to build more elevated disaster shelters; provide locally available building materials to rebuild homes and businesses; provide psychological counseling and more.
Want your donation to specifically go to kids? UNICEF is probably the way to go. With a mission to "change the world for children," the organization is seeking $81 million to support an estimated 1.5 million affected children in South Asia. The initial appeal will include emergency immunization, supply of safe water, feeding for malnourished children and pregnant women, care for traumatized children, protection for orphans and rehabilitation of schools. As of Jan. 2, UNICEF has already received more than $20 million.
A leader in response, the Red Cross raised more than $79 million between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Keep the number growing.
Directing aid to Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India, Oxfam and UNICEF have been appointed the sole providers of clean water in Banda Aceh, a provincial capital located on the northern tip of Sumatra.
A whopping 100 percent of every donation made to Operation USA goes directly to relief efforts, as its board of directors has committed to covering administrative costs.
The Humane Society of the United States
Looking to help our four-legged friends? Your donation to the Humane Society goes to animal-related efforts. Says the organizations: "Getting a grip on the animal issues in the affected countries, even at a time of unfathomable human misery and loss of life, is important. Not only is it necessary to dispose of animal remains…but it's vital that organizations like HSI work to jumpstart the economies of these devastated communities—economies largely built on animal agriculture."
Catholic Relief Services
Currently serving 94 countries, Catholic Relief Service's relief efforts will provide food and food security, medicine, medical assistance, water and sanitation, family survival kits (soap, cooking utensils, sleeping mats), shelter and more.
Habitat for Humanity
Your gift will be used to help Habitat partner families who were displaced or affected by the disaster and to help build more houses in areas where there are now even more families in need of safe and decent shelter.
6. Turn on and tune it. When it comes to donations, National Public Radio itself is a worthwhile recipient. In the case of the current disaster, they'll help you be a benefactor to a different cause. Tune in and check the Web site for their tips on how and where to give.
7. Head to the 'burbs. The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago & Islamic Relief present and Asia Tsunami Disaster Emergency Fundraising dinner Saturday, Jan. 8 at the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park (300 W. Highridge Rd). Registration starts at 6:30; dinner is at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students. You can also make a donation.
8. Make a statement…buy a bumper sticker. Irregular Goods gained notability with its anti-Bush bumper stickers, but they certainly have more to opine about. Choose from two bumper stickers, a T-shirt or canvas bag; 100 percent of after-tax profits will be donated to the relief effort.
9. eBay! Yes, America's online bazaar provides even more ways to help in one of two ways. Sell a good through eBay Giving Works and donate 10-100 percent of your proceeds to a charity of your choice (options range from UNICEF to Action Against Hunger), or buy an item that benefits a charity (we found new UGG boots whose entire proceeds would go to the Red Cross). More info here.
10. Turn to the blogs. The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog dishes up news and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts.