Help Nepal Earthquake Victims

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UPDATE: 
Another 7.3 earthquake has rocked Nepal, striking close to Mt. Everest. This powerful tremor triggered landslides and toppled buildings, and was followed by at least five aftershocks that killed dozens and injuring more than 1,000. Already shell-shocked people are struggling and traumatized—and will likely be sleeping outside to stay safe. They need your help.


Help Nepal Earthquake Victims

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal Saturday morning, April 25, near the capital of Kathmandu. The quake is the largest to hit the poor South Asian country in more than 80 years. As casualty numbers rise, it has killed over 5,000 people in Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh and at the Nepal-China border—and injured nearly 6,000.  The quake also triggered a huge avalanche that killed at least 18 climbers in the Mount Everest area. Entire villages are destroyed.

Powerful aftershocks continue to jolt residents, many who are sleeping outside and in new tent villages. CNN producer Ingrid Formanek who arrived Sunday night, said Kathmandu “looks like a city where buildings have been abandoned. People are hanging out in public squares and at intersections to avoid rubble from buildings.” The earthquake and aftershocks have turned one of the world’s most scenic areas into a scene of massive destruction.

Rescue, relief and recovery efforts are underway, and families and children urgently need your help. Here are 12 charities providing life-saving emergency services, including vital shelter, food, water, sanitation supplies, and medical care:

button_donate_nowThe American Red Cross is working with the Nepal Red Cross and the global Red Cross network to coordinate support.

button_donate_nowAmeriCares has sent it response team and shipments of medical aid and relief supplies for survivors.

button_donate_nowCARE has worked in Nepal since 1978, and is providing life-saving food, water, shelter and health care.

button_donate_nowCatholic Relief Services is sending relief materials such as shelter kits, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies.

button_donate_nowDoctors without Borders has mobilized eight teams from nearby countries to help, including surgical teams and non-medical staff – along with emergency supplies.

button_donate_nowHumane Society International stands ready to support local agencies or animal welfare groups and help with animal-related needs in the strike zone.

button_donate_nowMercy Corps’ team is on the ground, focused on delivering rapid, lifesaving aid to hard-hit communities.

button_donate_nowOperation USA and its partners in the country are helping distribute essential supplies for victims and hospitals.

button_donate_nowOxfam International has a team in the country and is responding with clean water, sanitation materials and emergency food.

button_donate_nowSave the Children is protecting vulnerable children and providing relief to families with emergency kits, hygiene materials and tarps.

button_donate_nowShelterBox is distributing aid, including tents they have prepositioned in the country that can serve as emergency clinics.

button_donate_nowWorld Vision is providing first aid kits, sleeping mats, blankets and jerry cans; temporary shelter; and protection for children.

Charity: Make it Your Wedding’s “Something New”

When planning a wedding, online access to friends’ wedding albums, DIY blogs, a parade of competing vendors and a plethora of websites can be inspiring…and overwhelming. In an industry where advice is handed out like candy and society sets expectations for everything from ring size to dress size to guest list, it‘s hard to remember that a wedding is not a competition. (Well, unless you’re on a reality show. But who can keep up with the Kardashians anyway?)

I was in three weddings this past year, each with its own flare. And it’s not the fancy meal, the lighting, or the color of the bouquet ribbons I remember. It’s the personal touches like receiving Save the Date cards on Willy Wonka-inspired golden tickets, watching the bride walk down the isle to Pure Imagination, laughing at the groom’s delivery of a comedy routine before the vows, and being asked to share marital advice using an antique typewriter. (This inspired moments of hilarity from my 20-something peers who had never used such a “high-tech” device. Luckily the parents stood by to help.) Now those were unforgettable moments.

Of course you want your wedding day to be special and express who you are as a couple. And ultimately, when all the elements come together to really capture that spirit, it makes an impression.

What’s trending now?

Many couples are personalizing their weddings by registering for charity and requesting donations for causes they care about. With organizations like I Do Foundation, it’s easy to manage a charity registry online, simple for guests to donate, and convenient to get a ready-made gift list when it’s time to send thank you notes. As a serial bridesmaid, I know anything that makes the after-wedding rituals simpler is appreciated!

For some couples like Annette Toutonghi and Bruce Oberg of Seattle, Washington, registering for charity made perfect sense. “We have everything we really need,” they said. “Physical gifts seemed wasteful. We are passionate about human rights, the environment, and the arts. And have quite a few loved ones who we’ve lost to cancer. What a wonderful gift to feel like our special day could benefit these causes.”

They’re not alone in their thinking. With nearly 70% of couples living together before marriage and many waiting until later in life to get married, home and kitchen items just aren’t needed. They want to make their day about something else. Charity gifts are an inspired, eco-chic option that shares the love in a feel-good and meaningful way.

For other couples, a charity registry offers a chance to give back locally. “We lived for decades in Minneapolis before moving to California just before our wedding, and wanted to benefit a charity that serves that local community,” explains Eric and Becky Bausman of San Mateo. “The notes from our guests reflected the true spirit of our celebration—they completely understood that this was about choosing to celebrate our joy by sharing our blessings with the world around us.”

What a wonderful world

Take a cue from popular wedding songs to personalize the charity choice for your wedding:

  1. Marry Me – The most important part of your day is joining the two of you as a couple. What causes and issues do you and your partner care about individually and together? Charity registries let you select favorite organizations so you can share your love with others.
  2. Celebrate good times – Weddings reunite family and friends and are a time to remember someone special who is not there to celebrate with you. Why not honor them and their health struggle by giving to make a difference for the cause? It’s a great way to include them in your day.
  3. Shout! – Let guests know about your registry by sharing a custom link in an email, on your invitations, and through social media—telling them how their gift to charity will mean the world to you.

“We felt giving our guests the opportunity to donate on our behalf would add to the good energy and feelings of love surrounding our wedding. It can be easy to get caught up in table decorations, favors, or any number of small details,” comments Elizabeth James of Santa Monica, California.

When it comes to starting a marriage off on the right foot and remembering what’s important, I think there’s no better way than to include charity on your special day. When I plan my own ceremony, I know I want to represent who I am and my dedication to charity, and I’m confident my partner will share this passion with me. I would love for my guests to be a part of the causes I hold dear and to leave the wedding feeling like we made a difference together.

Charity makes it easy to celebrate generously and creates not-to-be-forgotten wedding memories.

P.S. Still looking for inspiration? Visit A Soolip Wedding – they’re having events in San Francisco and Los Angeles, offer Ways to be Green, and support conscious vendors (like I Do!).

Check out I Do Foundation on Facebook!


– Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Give now to help Japan’s survivors

Living on the West Coast where earthquakes are a normal part of growing up, I imagine what it would be like if the disaster that struck Japan happened here. What if I was separated from my family and had no way to know what’s going on, no way to communicate, and was alone and lost?  As a mother, I immediately know how desperate I’d feel if I was separated from my little girl. How would I find her? How would I know she is ok?

Although we don’t know how many areas have access to the Internet in the coastal areas hit by the tsunami, Google’s Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake is helping find missing people. So is the Family Links website from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Watching updates from international news programs, I noticed Brazil has the second largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan.  There are thousands of people there without any news or contact from their Japanese friends and family.  So Person Finder and the ICRC site are helping people all over the world – who are relieved to know their loved ones are safe, even if they can’t yet speak or connect in any other way. I’m thankful that technology can at least ease minds across the oceans in its own small way.

Staggering disaster damage

Although Japan was well prepared for an earthquake, there was “next to nothing” the country could do to prepare for the magnitude of destruction this earthquake and tsunami caused.

The number of people affected is hard to fathom. The most recent disaster figures from Reuters say that more than 440,000 people have been evacuated. Over 850,000 households are still without electricity in near-freezing weather—and at least 1.5 million households don’t have running water. According to CNN over 8,200 people are confirmed dead and sadly, at least 13,000 more missing.

The earthquake and tsunami have taken an unknown toll on family pets and animals too – leaving many four-legged friends injured or abandoned who need rescuing.

Rescue and relief help

This is a time when the people of Japan need help from every resource and every donation that we can give. Despite an ever-growing death toll, there is some hope. Teams like the Los Angeles County Fire urban search and rescue teams are in Japan right now offering their skills to find survivors. And the story and photo of this four-month-old girl who had been separated from her parents for three days and was saved by the Japanese Defense Force touches our hearts.

Save the Children estimates at least 100,000 children have been affected by the disasters; many who have suffered profound losses. They are working to bring a sense of normality back into these children’s lives.  Direct Relief International has worked with the Japanese American Citizens League to provided $400,000 that was sent to Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan), a 31-year-old leading Japanese nonprofit organization.  This donation allows AAR Japan to continue its relief efforts, which are focused on persons with disabilities and elderly persons affected by the disaster.  They have teams providing essential nonfood and food supplies.

Welfare groups are scrambling to rescue helpless animals. Access to affected areas makes the job more challenging, and it’s another urgent need to help cold, hungry and injured animals or give shelter to those being left behind. Many rescue and animal care organizations are working to make a difference, including: International Fund for Animal Welfare, Inc. and the Humane Society of the United States.   This video from GlobalAnimal.org shows a dog bringing help to an injured friend, a glimpse of compassion in the midst of tragedy.

It is hard to know what you can do to help at a time like this. But thankfully—just like it does for people searches—today’s technology makes it easy to donate and help when the Japan victims need it the most.  And more than ever, I trust organizations that have experience and success in disaster recovery. JustGive has set up a special page that lists relief and aid groups working to help the Japanese people begin the long road to recovery.

Donate now and provide hope to people who have lost everything, including loved ones. Your generosity could mean one more hot meal, one more tent, one more survivor found.

And pass the word along to friends and family so they can give too.

Julia Hughes, Marketing Assistant