When I use social media outside of work, it’s always for my own enjoyment – often for sharing things from my blog or learning about what’s going on around Cleveland. However, the last week showed me how social media can also bring about social good through both the recent Ohio Bloggers Meetup and Twestival Cleveland.
Wednesday night was the monthly meetup for Cleveland bloggers in the Ohio Blogging Association. Past meetups have been social gatherings at Whole Foods and AMP 150. This month’s was a volunteer night at the Cleveland Foodbank.
The Cleveland Foodbank supplies a majority of the food used in local hot meal sites, shelters, and food pantries. In addition, they provide vital food to child care centers, group homes, and programs for the elderly. They accomplish this by working closely to organize programs with other Northeast Ohio hunger relief organizations and hunger centers like the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, the Catholic Hunger and Shelter Network, and the Salvation Army.
After being given some background on the Foodbank and a tour of the facility, Hungry in Cleveland, Why CLE, Healthy Heddleston, Finishing Firsts, Cooker Girl, Green Dog Wine, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission Weblog and I got to work.
Our job for the evening was to sort and pack donated oranges that would then be given out to those in need. Each bag had to be around 6 pounds – which is a lot more difficult to measure by hand than I thought. Fortunately, there was a scale there, since I only hit 6 lbs on my first try once the entire night. However, despite my lack of measuring skills, that evening’s group of volunteers was able to sort through a number of large crates of oranges.
Afterwards, a few of us grabbed a delicious dinner at nearby Grovewood Tavern where I enjoyed savory Zinfandel Short Ribs, conversations about Cleveland, and discussing my mutual love of the tv show Castle with HungryinCLE.
Wednesday night was my first time volunteering at the Food Bank and it was great to be introduced to the friendly and hardworking staff there through the Ohio Blogging Association.
If you’d like to help the Food Bank, they’re currently in the middle of their Harvest for Hunger Campaign. Harvest for Hunger is one of the largest annual, community-wide food and funds drives in the nation, providing critical resources to local hunger relief organizations in twenty-one counties in Northeast and North Central Ohio.
Last year’s campaign raised the dollars and food needed to provide over 10 million meals to individuals and families who were struggling to make ends meet. There are a number of ways to support the 2011 campaign including:
- Visit the FoodBank’s site and make a donation. I really like the website because it shows you how much your donation will help. For instance, a donation as little as $10 provides 40 meals, while a $500 donation can provide 2,000 meals.
- Donate $1, $5, or $10 in the check-out aisle at a participating retailer from March 13 through April 23. Local stores include Acme Fresh Market, Buehler’s Fresh Foods, Dave’s Markets, Fishers Foods, Giant Eagle, Inc., and Heinen’s Fine Foods. Dollars donated in your community stay in your community.
- And as I learned at lunch yesterday with Healthy Heddleston, Cooker Girl, Poise in Parma, and Project Mommy, you can contribute through the Chevy Girls Do Good Fan Pledge by liking Gotta Love Chevy NEO on Facebook. With this program, the Chevy Network Dealers will be making a contribution of $6,000 to the Harvest for Hunger campaign.
The day after the Foodbank Volunteer Night, I headed over to Twestival Cleveland. As I mentioned in earlier posts, Twestival Cleveland is an annual Twitter Festival to raise money for local charities around the world. Cleveland’s charity was We Run This City, a youth marathon program that helps students in the Cleveland School District run the Rite Aid Marathon and learn important goal-making skills.
With the support of the WRTC volunteers and the Cleveland social media community, we had over 100 attendees and raised over $2000 for the organization. As WRTC Program Director Tara Taylor explained, the money from Twestival came at an excellent time with the proceeds going to the race fees and t-shirts for the 871 students participating in the race.
After only a few weeks of planning, the large turnout of people eager to support Twestival made me very happy. In particular, one of the most rewarding aspects of the planning process was the response we got from local bloggers and tweeters as well as social media-savvy businesses.
When I was at Twestival, I had a guest at the Marriott come up to the registration table and ask me what was going on. When I mentioned Twestival was a Twitter Festival, she launched into how she thought social media was a waste of time used only for oversharing information.
While you can’t win everyone over to the benefits of Twitter, this past week’s two events brought home the fact that these tools have significantly positive offline implications. Social media for social good for sure.