Operation Christmas ChildFor most of the world, Christmas comes once a year. A day full of red bows and snow glistening in the December sun. Not so for Samaritan’s Purse, a nonprofit headquartered in North Carolina. For them, Christmas is not merely a holiday, but a lifestyle. Operation Christmas Child began as a mom and pop project in the United Kingdom. It quickly grew into a worldwide phenomenon under the umbrella of Samaritan’s Purse. Over 150 countries annually take part in the program. Every year volunteers fill shoeboxes with toys, basic care items and a message of hope for the eager hands of boys and girls living in underdeveloped countries.

Volunteers from around the world spend the months leading up to Christmas filling boxes to the brim. Schools, churches, community organizations and individuals all work to bring a glimmer of light to poverty-stricken countries. Last year, Samaritan’s Purse was able to collect 10.5 million shoeboxes to give to the world’s poor.

Operation Christmas Child in Madagascar

One country in particular that reaps from Operation Christmas Child’s generosity is Madagascar. Madagascar is an African island nearly 800 miles from the shoreline of Mozambique. It is home to exotic species, the deciduous baobab trees and unfortunately, overwhelming statistical poverty. According to The World Bank, 70.7% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2012. Three factors that play a role in the rise of poverty in Madagascar are political crises, climate shocks and a sharp increase in global food prices.

With all the compounding factors that exacerbate poverty, Madagascar is a perfect destination for Operation Christmas Child to focus its energy.

Students in Madagascar

It was the summer of 2017. Mary Patton Murphy, a rising high school junior, packed her bags for her first trip across the world. Murphy is one of around thirty students that was able to be a part of the competitive week-long student vision trip with Samaritan’s Purse in 2017.

For years, Murphy had packed shoeboxes in the months leading to Christmas and dropped them off during National Collection Week. One year, a child that received one of her boxes sent Murphy a letter thanking her. This personal experience made her fall deeply in love with the organization. Murphy’s trip to Madagascar allowed her to see the ins and outs of the organization.

“It is such a well-run process,” says Murphy, “[the organization] truly maximize[s] their resources.” Murphy witnessed this first-hand during her time spent in Madagascar. Volunteers visited two distribution centers a day where each shoebox is diligently cared for and searched to ensure the safety of the delivery.

Murphy illustrated the process, noting that it “is a long one.” She expounded adding that “the shoeboxes travel to a local collection center. Then they are consolidated into carton boxes and sent to a processing center to make sure there isn’t anything harmful in any of the shoeboxes like toothpaste because the kids will try to eat it. They might add to a box if it is low on supplies or toys. Then the shoeboxes are shipped across the world. Some of these kids have never received a present before.”

Wrapping Up

Volunteers of all ages are the driving forcing behind this operation from beginning to end. They all advocate to make a difference in the lives of impoverished children across the globe. For individuals who would like to advocate on behalf of these children, they should visit this website.

The leaves fade from various shades of red and yellow and the morning air turns crisp and cool. The collection of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child will soon be underway. Make an early start to the season of giving with a mere shoebox, a few toys and a heart for the world’s poor.

Chatham Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

KPOP
BTS, also known as Bangtan Boys, is a Korean boy band consisting of 7 members. Their style of music, popularly known as KPOP, or Korean Pop music has taken off. Debuting in 2013, BTS immediately gained a faithful and dedicated fanbase that they call ARMY. As BTS grew in popularity, their acts of charity became more frequent. With their popularity and influence,  ARMY soon followed in the KPOP group’s philanthropic footsteps.

Hope Delivery Food Bank

In South Korea, nearly 50% of the elderly population is living in poverty. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that in 2015, 45.7% of South Koreans over the age of 65 lived in poverty. There is also a large number of children lacking necessities. Poverty and Social Exclusion reported that 13.5% of children in South Korea are living in poverty. To combat these numbers and give back to the community, BTS teamed up with Hope Delivery — a program under Love Food Bank that works to help the elderly and children in poverty by delivering food for them.

Jimin’s Busan School Donation

In April 2019, it was revealed that Jimin, a member of BTS, made a large donation to Busan’s office of education. Notably, the donation of 100 million won equates to about $84,000. Jimin has also made other generous donations. For example, he also donated to his alma mater, Busan High School of Arts, in February 2020. With his donation, he was able to provide 1,200 students with new desks and chairs.

Jin’s UNICEF Honors Club

In 2019, it was announced by UNICEF Korea that Jin became a member of UNICEF Honors Club. Jin had become a member by donating more than 100 million won. He had begun secretly donating in May 2018 and revealed he became a member of the UNICEF Honors Club to encourage others to follow in his footsteps.

Suga’s Hope Bridge Korea Disaster Relief Association

To fight the spread of COVID-19, Suga decided to donate 100 million won to the Hope Bridge Korea Disaster Relief Association. Suga initiated this donation after the cancellation of BTS’s tour, Map of the Soul. Many fans and would-be concert goers drew inspiration from Suga’s donation and followed suit. The outpour of donations from ARMY accumulated about 400 million won over a weekend in March 2020. Fans’ total donation amount may be much higher since not every donation went under BTS or ARMY.

J-Hope’s ChildFund Korea’s Green Noble Club

During August 2020, it was revealed that J-Hope, a member of ChildFund Korea’s Green Noble Club, donated 100 million won. The donation helped vulnerable children, especially those who are facing financial insecurities due to COVID-19. McKinsey & Company conducted a report revolving around the financial impact of COVID-19 on Asian countries. When focusing on the decrease in income in households, the report reveals that South Koreans have great concern. With this level of concern, J-Hope’s donation is likely to alleviate the stress among households.

ARMY Singapore Foodbank Charity

In honor of BTS’s 6th anniversary, fans have come together to do acts of charity. A Twitter handle by the name @btsborahaeteam had revealed on March 6, 2019, that a donation project has been formed. The purpose of the donation was to raise funds through Food Bank SG and distribute it to different charities and food kitchens in Singapore. On June 7, 2019, the fundraiser came to an end and more than $2,000 was raised. With the money raised, people put together 136 bundles of food and distributed it in Bedok North. In the name of KPOP and BTS, ARMY has come together and made a significant, financial impact.

Ashleigh Jimenez
Photo: Flickr

canada's indigenous populationDespite being one of the wealthiest and most productive countries in the world, Canada does not provide equally for all of its citizens. Specifically, Canada’s Indigenous population constitutes 4% of the nation’s population of about 34.7 million. Despite their name of “First Peoples,” Indigenous people in Canada receive less priority for public aid and infrastructure. Canada’s Indigenous population disproportionately lives in poverty. For example, 25% of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people live in poverty. Out of the population of First Peoples’ children, 40% live below the poverty line as well.

The Housing Crisis

Many indigenous residences are overcrowded, often in poor and unsafe conditions. Overall, 20% of Canada’s Indigenous population lives in overcrowded households, both on and off reserves. Additionally, 25% of First Nations people live in housing that is substandard. Among Canada’s homeless population, 22% are First Nations.

While high rates of poverty among First Nations people are one major contributor to the housing crisis, the limited number of homes available to them is another large problem. Estimates suggest that Canada’s Indigenous population living on reserves needs anywhere from 130,000 to 175,000 new homes. It is even more difficult to gauge the number of housing units needed to accommodate the off-reservation First Nations population. Information for off-reservation housing extends to other Indigenous populations like the Métis and Inuit.

Food Deserts

Approximately 48% of First Nation households struggle to meet their daily food needs. This rate is higher in Canada’s Alberta province, where 60% of First Nations people find it difficult to feed their families. Both of these numbers are much higher among Canada’s Indigenous population compared to the national rate of 8.4%.

Within Canada’s Indigenous population, food insecurity continues to climb. This is especially true in remote areas with little to no access to a service center. When available, these centers help the Indigenous population with food, water, housing, health and education services.

While getting food is a struggle in itself, not all meals are equally nutritious. First Nations people have an even harder time getting healthy foods due to high demand, few centers and high prices. Traditional foods, like game and fish, are also hard to come by due to pollution and industry in Canada. However, these traditional foods generally lack the preservatives and artificial sugars found in much other food. As a result, many Indigenous adults suffer dietary issues. About 82% are overweight, while 20% suffer from diabetes. Again, these rates are disproportionately high among Canada’s Indigenous population relative to the overall population.

Education and Employment

Education remains one of the most effective ways for members of impoverished communities to lift themselves out of poverty. However, under a system that treats the Indigenous population like second-class citizens, quality education is scarce. This makes it more difficult for Canada’s indigenous population to improve their quality of life.

Less than 50% of First Peoples have a high school diploma. Further, just 6% have any kind of college degree. Canada has a history of investing fewer resources into Indigenous education than in its public education. Specifically, the disparity may be as severe as investing $8,000 less per Indigenous student than per Canadian student.

This disparity between First Peoples and Canada’s population continues to affect employment trends. Unemployment rates among the Inuit, Métis and First Nations are more than double Canada’s rate. In some areas, 80% of the Indigenous population relies on welfare. Reducing the educational gap (and consequently, the employment gap) would infuse an additional $36 billion into Canada’s economy by 2026.

Employment and education disparities also exist between on-reserve and off-reserve Indigenous people. As of 2007, the high school graduation rate was up to 70% for off-reserve First Peoples. By contrast, on-reserve rates rest at about 45%. Among the Inuit population, the high school graduation rate has decreased, falling from 52% to 41%.

The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund

In a country that’s thriving, it can be hard to believe that there are populations so deprived of resources and opportunities. The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) strives to build people’s awareness about the marginalization of First Peoples. It also seeks to mend the relationship between Canada and its Indigenous population through teaching their history and culture.

The donations the DWF receives go to the creation of legacy schools and spaces. For example, its Legacy School program is a partnership between the DWF and certain schools. These legacy schools educate students on the history and culture of First Peoples. The Legacy Spaces program is a similar program that partners with organizations and corporations who are passionate about mending the divide between Canada’s non-Indigenous and Indigenous populations.

In focusing on building mutual understanding, the DWF seeks a more supportive relationship between Canada’s two populations. This would serve to preserve the culture of the First Peoples. Importantly, it would also help the Canadian government to finally recognize its duty to its most marginalized population.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

baseball players helping to fight povertyMajor League Baseball encompasses players from all around the world who go to North America to play the highest level of baseball. Players often come from humble beginnings and struggle along the way, in order to make it playing professional baseball. It isn’t uncommon for players to come from impoverished communities to play professional baseball. Players often want to give back to the people in their native communities who helped them achieve their dream, while also inspiring other athletes to help poverty-stricken communities. There are several professional baseball players helping to fight poverty. There are also baseball charity campaigns joining in the fight.

Baseball Players Helping to Fight Poverty

  1. David Ortiz: Ortiz grew up in the Dominican Republic and would later become a sports icon in Boston, winning three World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox. Ortiz founded the David Ortiz Children’s Fund to help children in Boston and his native country of the Dominican Republic have essential cardiac services that they need, like cardiac surgeries. To date, his children’s fund has provided over 1,600 low-income children with detection and screening for cardiac care, support for a regular rural outreach and detection program in the Dominican Republic and child life specialist support for over 4,000 children.
  2. Albert Pujols: Pujols also grew up in the Dominican Republic and is a three-time Most Valuable Player award winner and a two-time World Series Champion. In 2005, Pujols and his wife started the Pujols Family Foundation which aims to meet the needs of children with Down syndrome and improve the quality of life of impoverished people in the Dominican Republic. The foundation provides impoverished people in the Dominican Republic with health care, mentorship and education. The foundation set up a vocational school that teaches women how to sew and make jewelry. Over 18,000 people in the most desolate areas of the country have received medical care thanks to the foundation.
  3. Striking Out Poverty 2019: Throughout the 2019 baseball season, a number of individuals joined together to launch a campaign titled Striking Out Poverty 2019. The campaign is a joint initiative between Big League Impact and Food for the Hungry. Big League Impact helps impoverished communities have basic needs fulfilled like clean water, food and medical care. Food for the Hungry works in some of the poorest countries in the world, helping those most in need with food, along with educational and vocational training. Striking Out Poverty 2019 raised nearly $300,000 for these organizations through six sub-campaigns among individual players or teams.
  4. Luke Weaver: A pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Luke Weaver raised $132,610 through his 22X campaign, which will go towards helping Rohingya refugees. Weaver’s total amount raised came from his strikeout total which was 69. Through his donation and matching donations, each strikeout of his was worth $1,921.88.
  5. Nick Ahmed: Among the baseball players helping to fight poverty is Nick Ahmed. This shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks raised $104,575 from his Every Hit Makes a Difference campaign, part of which will go towards a community center in the Dominican Republic. The center will be a place for education and job training as well as a place to receive medicine. The total came through donations and his own contribution. Each hit of his amounted to $736.44 towards his campaign.

As an international sport that brings players together from all over the world and from all different backgrounds, baseball has the power to unite. Players like David Ortiz and Albert Pujols have given back to the communities that they grew up in, improving the lives of those who walk the same ground they walked before they were professional athletes. The Striking Out Poverty 2019 campaign has also helped individuals who are affected by poverty. The Professional baseball community and its fight against poverty shows the impact that can be made when individuals who have a platform help those in need.

Zachary Laird
Photo: Flickr

Online Charitable Donation PlatformThe AmazonSmile Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization created by Amazon to administer the AmazonSmile program. This program allows customers to enjoy the same Amazon online shopping experience as the traditional Amazon online shopping platform, but now with the option of donating 0.5% of eligible purchases to various charitable organizations. The AmazonSmile program charges no additional cost to either the charitable organization or the customer. The new foundation from Amazon or rather, the online, charitable donation platform, represents a positive, philanthropic step forward for the company. This initiative has the potential to reach millions of Amazon users and hopefully, even more of the world’s poor will benefit.

How it Works

Signing up for AmazonSmile is a highly intuitive process for customers. It is available on any web browser under the URL: smile.amazon.com and it can even be activated from the Amazon shopping application. One of the program’s main features is that customers can choose the specific nonprofit to which they want to donate. Moreover, the online, charitable donation platform offers more than 1 million charitable organizations to choose from.

The charities included in the program must pass an approval process to guarantee that the customers’ donations only fund reputable organizations. Organizations hold valid registry and remain in solid standing with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) (also known as a registered nonprofit). Only then are charitable organizations eligible to register on AmazonSmile. Additionally, foundations must be public and located in either the U.S. or Washington D.C.

Yet, after all of this information, an important question remains — why are some Amazon customers hesitant to use this program when shopping?

The Problems with AmazonSmile

Enabling AmazonSmile seems like a simple way to help others. However, the program has already received some criticism. Since the donation is only 0.5% of a customer’s eligible purchase order, a customer would have to spend $5,000 on Amazon to donate just $25 to the organization of their choice. When taking a closer look at consumer spending, it is clear that this purchase-to-donation ratio is not necessarily skewed in favor of Amazon’s online charitable donation platform (and thus, the charities). For example, in 2018 Amazon Prime members only spent an average of $1,400 on purchase orders. Moreover, the purchase order value (on average) for consumers who were not Amazon Prime members was even less, at $600.

In 2015, the AmazonSmile Foundation donated just less than $13 million to charitable organizations. Although this figure undoubtedly represents a substantial amount of money, the fact remains that the company’s contribution was still less than 0.5% of Amazon’s total retail sales for that same year. The program donated about 0.00012% of Amazon’s total retail sales in 2015. Given Amazon’s extreme level of success, many people criticize the program for its minuscule donations (in proportion to the company’s total retail sales).

A Silver Lining

Regardless of its flaws, the AmazonSmile Foundation holds the potential to provide a simple way to substantially give back to charitable organizations. For those who want to make small contributions, often — transitioning to AmazonSmile is an effective way to accomplish philanthropic, retail goals while making a positive impact in the fight against world poverty.

Danielle Wallman
Photo: Google Images

Poverty eradication in ItalyMany programs are working toward innovations in poverty eradication in Italy. These programs include an income program instated by the government, a fuel poverty program partnership between two companies and charities that provide assistance to the needy. Here are four facts about innovations in poverty eradication in Italy:

4 Facts About Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Italy

  1. Italy’s welfare program: In 2019, Italy introduced a €7 billion income welfare program to help reduce poverty. As of 2018, 5.1 million people in Italy lived in poverty. This program targets those people, as well as Italian citizens, EU citizens and legal residents living in Italy for 10 years or more. Households whose annual income is equal to or below €9,360 are eligible. Those eligible receive €780 a month, which can help pay for essentials such as grocery, rent and utilities. In the program, individuals who are able-bodied are also required to sign up for job placement and training programs. Employers who hire individuals taking part in the program receive financial incentives.
  2. Reducing fuel poverty: Fuel poverty is present in Italy, but so are programs to help tackle it. Fuel poverty is defined by the European Energy Poverty Observatory as “the inability to keep the home adequately warm at an affordable cost.” This affects more than 3.9 million Italians per year. A U.K.-based company called PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partnered with an international organization, Ashoka, to reduce low-income families living in fuel poverty in Italy. The project relies on social innovators and entrepreneurs to find novel methods of tackling fuel poverty and reducing it in Italy.
  3. Food stamps: Italian programs for food assistance are giving out free meals and food stamps. Particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, many Italians are facing unemployment, and about one million are in need of food assistance. Programs such as the Ronda della Solidarieta charity, which offers free dinners twice a week in Rome to those in need, and the Nona Roma association, which drops off boxes filled with food necessities to low-income Roman families, are helping reduce the amount of people who go hungry. In 2020, the prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, delegated €400 million for food stamps.
  4. Charities: Charities for the homeless and low-income are attempting to provide resources such as food and health items to those in need. The COVID-19 crisis can be especially difficult for homeless Italians, as closed restaurants and bars provide less access for them to wash their hands. Similarly, it can be difficult to obtain food while social distancing, and homeless people are sometimes stopped by the police for not abiding by quarantine laws. The Community for St. Egidio is a charity that keeps their soup kitchen open, and they distribute 2,500 meals per week. They are also seeking donations for face masks, hand sanitizers and food. 

There is still a long way to go in eradicating poverty in Italy, and COVID-19 may worsen the plight of low-income families in Italy. However, it is still important to note these programs as they help families in need and create innovations in poverty eradication in Italy.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Unsplash

latter-day saint charitiesLeprosy is a disease that plagues India. More than 1,000 leprosy colonies throughout the country house hundreds of thousands of its most vulnerable citizens, often unable to provide for their basic daily needs. The nation-wide shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened this, forcing the leprosy colonies into a state of emergency. Fortunately, the support of Latter-day Saint Charities has helped lessen this dire situation.

The organization has provided food, soap and basic necessary medical supplies to more than 9,000 families in 228 of the most vulnerable colonies. Shawn Johnson, the vice president and director of operations for Latter-day Saint Charities, said, “It is our hope that this assistance helps these individuals and families to maintain their dignity as human beings and their divine value as children of God.”

A Global Religion with Global Reach

Latter-day Saint Charities is the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Headquartered in Utah, the global religion has more than 16 million members. The charity operates solely with donations from the church’s members and others around the world. Since the organization began in 1985, Latter-day Saints Charities has contributed more than $2 billion in assistance to 197 countries around the world.

“We seek to work with some incredible global partners in providing assistance, love and support to those in the greatest of need irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, background, etc.,” Johnson said. “This work includes critical emergency response efforts, longer-term development initiatives and signature programs, and community engagement and volunteerism efforts. All of these things work in harmony to help bless the lives of others.” 

The organization sponsors relief and development projects in countries and territories around the globe and operates “both independently and in cooperation with other charitable organizations and governments.” Latter-day Saint Charities’ various global projects include food security, clean water initiatives, vision care and refugee response. Johnson noted that the organization also has programs that provide wheelchairs and other mobility devices to individuals in need. Additionally, he said that Latter-day Saint Charities has helped provide immunizations to millions of children and has helped save thousands of babies and mothers through its “helping babies breathe” program.

COVID-19: The Largest Ever Humanitarian Project

In 2019 alone, Latter-day Saint Charities worked in 142 countries and territories on 3,221 projects. With more than 2,000 partners, the organization aided millions of people worldwide. But according to the church’s leader, President Russell M. Nelson, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has become “the largest-ever humanitarian project of the church.”

“In 2020, just for the COVID-19 responses alone, we have completed (more than) 500+ projects in 130+ countries all over the world. The overall number of projects for 2020 will likely greatly exceed the number from 2019,” Johnson said. “These emergency relief efforts have included providing personal protective equipment, food, water and shelter to some of the most vulnerable populations.”

“We also had a volunteer effort where members of the church and local communities provided close to a million hours of volunteer service to produce more than five million masks for front-line caregivers. We also worked to transition a portion of a Church-owned textile factory to produce medical gowns for front-line healthcare workers as well,” he added.

Volunteers Around The World

Along with the church’s more than 60,000 full-time volunteer missionaries and more than 30,000 church service missionaries, the organization also has more than 10,000 volunteer humanitarian missionaries around the world.

Over the past 35 years, Latter-day Saint Charities has been providing humanitarian relief for hundreds of countries worldwide and surely will continue to make a global impact this year — especially with their COVID-19 relief projects — and in years to come.

– Emma Benson

Photo: Flickr

Lab-grown diamondsThe inhumane conditions of diamond mines have become a widely scrutinized issue in recent years. Critics have labeled these diamonds as “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds”. These evocative epithets illustrate the historically exploitative labor practices prevalent among the diamond industry. Due to the growing consumer awareness of unethical mining practices, the criteria for purchasing diamonds have experienced a crucial shift. Since the turn of the century, consumers have largely stopped settling for anything less than ethically produced diamonds. Recently, lab-grown diamonds have emerged as a certifiably ethical alternative to traditionally mined diamonds.

The Rise of the Lab-Grown Diamond

Lab-grown diamonds are synthesized in laboratories with industrial processes that mimic how diamonds form inside the Earth or in outer space. In recent years, scientists have greatly improved the techniques needed to synthetically manufacture diamonds. As recently as the early 2000s, the only lab-grown diamonds available were either very small or tinted with impurities. In the last five years, however, the diamond industry has perfected the synthetic fabrication of diamonds. These technological advancements allow for the production of large, clear stones that bear no significant difference from natural diamonds.

This technological advancement has taken off quickly. In 2016, around a dozen lab diamond growers and sellers formed a trade group called the International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA). The IGDA now has around 50 members. Lab-grown diamonds now account for around 2-3% of the $14 billion diamond market. Some analysts predict that lab-grown diamonds will occupy up to 10% of the market by 2030.

Growing Acceptance of Lab-Grown Diamonds

Large corporations and organizations have made adjustments to welcome the lab-grown diamond into the diamond industry. The Federal Trade Commission has expanded the definition of a diamond to include lab-grown gems. In addition, the FTC has dropped “synthetic” as a recommended descriptor for lab-grown diamonds. The success of lab-grown diamonds has even pushed De Beers Group, the global diamond monopoly which once vowed never to sell man-made diamonds, to create a lab-grown diamond line known as Lightbox Jewelry.

Consumers have also demonstrated their interest in the lab-grown diamond. Primarily, lab-grown diamonds are often cheaper than mined diamonds. This allows consumers to purchase a larger diamond ring than they otherwise would be able to afford. In a 2018 consumer research survey conducted by MVI Marketing, around 66% of millennials said they would consider a lab-grown diamond and 23% said they would definitely buy a lab-grown diamond ring.

Merging Lab-Grown Diamonds and Activism

Several smaller companies that offer lab-grown diamonds have formed as well. These companies utilize their diamonds’ ethical sourcing and sustainability as a major selling point. Additionally, these companies are engaging in many forms of activism. Many of these companies divert a percentage of their profits to poverty reduction and humanitarian efforts around the world.

Collectively, the efforts of these companies will bring more awareness to issues in the diamond industry as well as aid the communities that were directly exploited by unethical mining practices. As technological and industrial capabilities increase, it is hoped that the diamond industry will take advantage and slowly transition away from its dependence on hazardous mines and labor practices.

Lab-Grown Diamond Companies Funding Humanitarian Projects:

  • MiaDonna: In 2007, Anna-Mieke Anderson founded MiaDonna. She felt compelled to offer a sustainable alternative to mined diamonds after researching the history of conflict diamonds. In the last three years, this company has dedicated more than 20% of its earnings towards its charity foundation, The Greener Diamond. The Greener Diamond gives back to those harmed by the diamond trade and educates consumers about their role in buying conflict diamonds. In addition, this foundation also funds various initiatives in Liberia, Togo and Sierra Leone that address food insecurity and education.
  • BrilliantEarth: Brilliant Earth sells both carefully sourced and lab-grown diamonds. Each year, they pledge 5% of profits towards giving back to mining communities. Presently, BrilliantEarth is funding the Brilliant Mobile School in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This school serves primary aged students in a mining community. The school aims to educate young children and ultimately expand their economic opportunities beyond working in the nearby diamond mine.
  • Do Amore: Do Amore was founded by Krish Himmatramka after struggling to find an ethical and sustainable engagement ring for his girlfriend. His company sells both carefully sourced and lab-grown diamonds. Additionally, Do Amore tries to use recycled materials in both their jewelry and packaging. Their main philanthropic focus is fighting the water crisis. So far, Do Amore has built 39 wells in five nations and helped 9,885 people.

– Antoinette Fang
Photo: Flickr

Buengo Reduces Poverty
There are a few sounds die-hard baseball fans know well: the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the chorus of crunching sunflower seeds, the crack of a boiled peanut shell and spilling hot, salty water on the stadium floor. Unfortunately, people did not hear these familiar sounds and many others during the spring of 2020 as the global pandemic stretched to all four corners of the world. Concerts, festivals and graduation ceremonies experienced silence, but one thing rang true: spring cleaning. True to course, rusted pots and pans clattered inharmoniously as they found their new home in a garbage bag, tattered sweaters and last seasons boots ricocheted off closet floors and scooters rattled on the way out of the garage. An abundance of black and white trash bags with toys, household items and clothes lined the streets in the early spring days, landfill-bound. However, thanks to new-age technology, there is an alternate path for spring cleaners to take that can help eradicate global poverty: Buengo. Here is some information about how Buengo reduces poverty.

How Buengo Reduces Poverty and Benefits Charities

Buengo is a marketplace application that encourages users to take their second-hand clothes, gadgets and home goods to Buengo rather than the landfill. This application, which debuted on the App Store and Google Play in March 2018, not only reduces environmental waste but also helps the world’s poor. Items that people sell on Buengo go directly from the seller to the buyer’s hands. The money, however, takes a different route. When the seller markets an item, they choose a campaign or charity for the profit to go towards. All of these “good causes” are in the U.K., but they have a global influence.

One organization that benefits from how Buengo reduces poverty is Poverty Child, which helps children in Payatas, the Philippines reach their fullest potential through educational programs, therapeutic endeavors, promotion of general well-being and security provision. Another nonprofit that reaps from Buengo is The Origin Charity. This organization works with indigenous people in Ethiopia to educate, equip and train the next generation of leaders. The Origin Charity also teaches marketable skills to vulnerable women, who are often the sole providers of their families. Any U.K. based charity or nonprofit can register their organization. However, Buengo is working to expand its industry to other countries so that everyone can follow the company’s motto and “sell it for good.”

The Good of Buengo

How much “good” do nonprofits and charities receive? The answer is 95% of all sales. Buengo says that “This covers the cost of what goes on behind the scenes: development of Buengo, continual support for all Buengo users, operational costs and overheads. We’re essentially offering the same service as a charity shop, but online. In physical locations, the amount taken from sales can be as much as 20%, so when you support a cause through Buengo, more of your money actually goes to the charity.”

As one wades through the pool of shirts that they no longer wear and trips over pants one size too small, there is another option instead of throwing unused items away. Instead of tossing unworn clothing in a trash bin, downloading Buengo and giving it to a global cause could be a good option.

– Chatham Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

Many American celebrities are donating their money and time to American charities during this pandemic, but actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas and her husband, singer-songwriter Nick Jonas, are taking it one step further. They have recently joined forces with the shoe brand Crocs and are donating 10,000 shoes to both healthcare workers in California and healthcare workers in India.

Previous Charity Work

In a tweet from March 31, Nick Jonas listed 10 organizations to which he and his wife have donated, one of which being UNICEF. Priyanka Chopra Jonas has worked as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF since 2016, acting as a voice for refugees, especially children. As an ambassador, she has visited many impoverished parts of the world and has witnessed lack of access to basic needs, one of which being clothing. Chopra Jonas and Crocs share a history of philanthropy as they donated 50,000 pairs of Crocs to poor children in Belize in 2019, with the help of UNICEF.

Why It Matters

With the rise of a global pandemic, Chopra Jonas and Crocs have teamed up again, this time for healthcare workers. Around 45% of Indian adults do not own cars and with an overwhelmed public transportation system that is now on lockdown, many Indians must walk to work–especially those with lower incomes. Nick Jonas, Chopra Jonas and Crocs are donating 10,000 Crocs to healthcare workers in India. The value of this donation is about $450,000 worth of shoes.

On its website, Crocs reports that overall, it has donated over 860,000 pairs of shoes to healthcare workers around the globe since March 25, 2020. The right pair of shoes can be helpful in many ways. Firstly, having protective footwear can prevent exposure to deadly toxins and parasites on the ground. Additionally, shoes that fit can allow people to walk, exercise and play without the risk of blistering. This is both a comfort issue and a health issue as blisters can lead to infection. People in poor communities often do not have the necessary antibiotics to stop infections. Shoes also have a lot of cultural importance. Footwear is used in many religious ceremonies around the globe, including India, and wearing shoes is considered a sign of cleanliness and pride.

How to Help

An organization called Soles4Souls works to help people bring themselves out of poverty by providing them with footwear, either to wear themselves or to sell. On the website is information about nearby drop-off locations and how to get free shipping with Zappos to donate shoes through the mail. Even just one pair of shoes can help a child get to school and can help an adult get to work.

Poverty often seems like an overwhelming and impossible problem, especially during a global pandemic. Fortunately, even a seemingly insignificant action – like donating shoes instead of throwing them away – can change a person’s outlook on life by helping them protect their feet and helping them get to and from work every day. UNICEF, the Jonas couple and Crocs are doing their parts to help lift people out of poverty, one pair of shoes at a time.

Levi Reyes

Photo: Flickr