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When the news of the earthquake and then a tsunami and then nuclear disaster rolled in, my first thought was for my safety and those near and dear to me. Then when it was clear the West Coast will be spared most ill effects of the tsunami and radiation, I felt a kind of guilt that I could think of myself first when other people are so devastated.
That’s when a couple of folks in my church concocted a plan to raise money for Mercy Corps, calling it Pennies from Portlandia. At first the plan was to make it a fundraiser for the church, but it quickly became apparent it could go community wide.
It is apparently better to give to organizations with a track record – like Mercy Corps – because money for specific relief efforts can become encumbered and ineffective. It is little wonder to me that the Portland area and Oregon has such an effective “locally grown” aid organization. Mercy Corps takes our ethos and ethic to the world, and we can take great local pride in them.
Pennies from Portlandia will put collection boxes throughout our community and all change collected in the boxes will support Mercy Corps – not just for Japan but for all the work Mercy Corps does throughout the world. The response from people who have been asked to help has been immediate. Already the effort has received donations of the boxes from Phoenix Media who also agreed to make a significant donation to Mercy Corps. Efforts have taken on the kind of grassroots energy that Portland is just so good at.
Giving money for relief is complex. When horrible things happen in the world, those of us in relative safety can just feel so helpless and powerless. It is a profound human inclination to want to reach out and help. But what can we do, really? Japan is a country with far more resources than many others.
But the deeper truth is that we need to give, perhaps almost as much the people in Japan need to receive. We need to know that we are connected to one another. That we can and will care for one another. The deepest truth of all is that we are profoundly connected to one another. And we are all vulnerable. Major disasters remind us of that in a visceral way.
If you want to know more about Pennies from Portlandia or get collection boxes, please email email@example.com.
Rev. Dana Worsnop
Atkinson Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist
Oregon City, OR
posted 2 years, 2 months ago
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