Amid all the usual holiday excess, one organization is pushing for people to give something more substantial this year than that ugly sweater you bought for your mom last week.
Katie-Jay Scott, a local representative for Stop Genocide Now, a California-based group, spoke Monday night at Dragonfly Coffee Shop in Northwest Portland to a few dozen people hoping to end the Sudanese genocide that's killed between 200,000 and 400,000 people in the Darfur region since 2003. Here are three ways Scott says you can help in Darfur this holiday season, without breaking your bank.
This puts you through to your congressional representative, senator or even the White House, with a prewritten script of what to say. It may sound like you're a lonely voice, but Scott says more than 8,000 people have called this year. And she says every voice counts when it comes to urging Congress to pass the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act, now on hold in the Senate, before the holiday break. Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith back this bill, which would ban federal contracts with companies deemed to be supporting genocide in Sudan with their business there.
This website promotes putting pressure on China, home of the 2008 Summer Olympics and Sudan's largest crude oil importer. Sign a petition here to the International Olympic Committee condemning China's role in funding the genocide. While that may seem unlikely to blow out the Olympic torch in Beijing, maybe you'll have more influence with Steven Spielberg, the Beijing Olympics' official artistic director. The website lets you email Spielberg to urge him to use his influence with the Chinese government, or to end his role in the games altogether.
DONATE MONEY—ANYTHING HELPS.
You can give a little and make a difference, Scott says. Advocacy groups, like Stop Genocide Now, use donations to link victims in Darfur with aid groups who can advocate for them abroad. Aid groups, like the International Rescue Committee and Portland-based Mercy Corps, use contributions for programs to directly assist the people of Darfur. Mercy Corps says each donated dollar helps secure $20.89 worth of food and supplies. Donate at stopgenocidenow.org, theirc.org and mercycorps.org.