Donations kept coming in today, as they have over the last few days after the post below about the initial idea to send ten thousand pounds of rice to Haiti. Jason (my full time amazing personal assistant) and I spent all day today and yesterday emailing and calling and facebooking people.
We started to realize that there was more potential here than we'd thought. The rice distributor (Sage V Foods from Little Rock, Arkansas) had offered us twenty thousand extra pounds of rice if we could take it off his hands and pay the additional transport costs. The Liberty Schooner, having just found a larger boat to take for this trip (the Halie-Matthew, with a 40,000 load capacity rather than just ten thousand pounds), agreed to take all the rice. What we needed to do: pay for the rice distributor to rebag the rice from enormous ballistic bags to manageable 50 pound bags so that it could get onboard the boat; pay for a truck to take the rice all the way from Little Rock to Key West; pay for fuel expenses for the Halie-Matthew from Key West to Haiti; pay for and arrange ground logistics in Haiti for the distribution of the rice to the village of La Source and to other places in need around the southern coast of Haiti. No problem. ;)
We received donations from new friends, old friends, friends of Trial (my former band - see the "Group Genius" post below), friends in the speaking and film industry...donations from people I'd not spoken to in years, from family, from people overseas, from people down the street, and from people we'd never even met (thanks to Reddit.com, twitter.com (@gregbennick) and wherever else we could post).
Amounts came in from $2 to $500 and everything in between. As the days went on, Jason and I feared that we might be able to cover some but not all of the expenses...but as today turned to night and the donations kept coming in, we realized that everything was going to be possible and that we were about to feed the equivalent of an entire city. I was on the phone for five hours today navigating through donations and working out details. Every second of it was exciting.
As of this moment, we've raised $4647.81. This all came in over five days, and is enough to do everything we possibly hoped to do. Thirty thousand pounds of rice, one country in need, one shipment, and a hundred different people getting involved and making it possible. All in a week's work. Thank you so much everyone. We did this. Not one person, all of us. Together we made a difference in the world. I appreciate all you've done and will continue to do. Any future donations which come in will be used towards expenses for the boat, for the upcoming water/filming project in La Source, and for providing medical supplies to my friend Dr. Jacques Denis' medical clinic in Port Au Prince. As always, 100% of donations are used for exactly what they are intended. No overhead ever. 100% direct action humanitarian aid.
Special thanks to Marton Szigeti in Budapest Hungary for getting me onto the radio for 25 minutes the other day in Hungary to talk about Haiti, the mission to bring much-needed supplies, the upcoming water project in La Source, the upcoming One Hundred For Haiti project, and how people who care about others can help. Those who read and understand Hungarian can check out the interview here. The radio station tied these ideas into local and regional Hungarian issues as well, letting people know how Hungarians can get involved with helping in their communities too in order to support poor people in need. As a Hungarian-at-heart (many generations of my family came from the city of Mukachevo in what was Hungary but is now in the western Ukraine) I was excited by the global community shrinking and the work in Haiti inspiring Hungarians to help their neighbors within their own country. It seemed so close to home for me, and really, it is. On a planet this small, anything that happens anywhere is ultimately very close to home.
There is more to do, always. An entire planet swirling and turning in and around and on itself, always in need, always transforming. We will be a part of it as it happens, willing and ready. Keep in touch, and be involved.