A few weeks ago, I tweeted about Humans of New York photographer and his use of social media to raise money for underprivileged school children. I found his story so powerful that I wanted to look into other instances of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to reach a common goal. I love reading heartwarming stories where the online community comes together to help a person or a group of people, so I wanted to share a few with all of you.
Mott Hall Bridges Academy
Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton is helping kids realize their dreams, and it all started with this picture:
Brandon then visited his school and met the inspirational Ms. Lopez herself. He and Ms. Lopez then started a crowd-funding campaign to send each and every child that enters the school to Harvard University for a visit, so they would know that they could attend Harvard. Ms. Lopez described the problem as, ““It can be very difficult for them to dream beyond what they know.” The goal was to raise $100,000, however, he reached many more than the 12 million people who like his Facebook page. The story went viral, and the fund raised over $1 million from over 38,000 contributors, with each person donating between $1 and $100. Because the campaign went above and beyond their wildest expectations, not only will students get to go on the Harvard trip, but they will also be able to fund a summer program and a full scholarship.
21 Mile Walk to Work
James Robertson lives in Detroit, however due to the high cost of transportation, his commute consists of a bus ride and 21 miles of walking to and from work every day for the past 10 years. He leaves the house at 8:00 am each morning to get to work for his 2:00-10:00 pm shift and then makes the return journey home, which sometimes takes even longer because of the lack of buses at night. However, despite his arduous journey each day, Mr. Robertson has a perfect attendance record at work and never complained about his journey.
A 19-year old college student learned about Mr. Robertson and started a crowd-funding page online to raise $25,000 to buy him a second-hand car for his commute to work. Started just 3 days ago, the fund has raised over $300,000 and caught the attention of Honda, Ford, and several other car dealerships that have offered to give him a car. Strangers on the Internet have reached out with their donations and also offers to give him cars, bicycles, and even rides.
As heartwarming as this story is, I cannot help but think about the millions of other people who go through difficult and heartbreaking difficulties. Although this story is wonderful, it can also be argued that the donations are charity and not helping fix the root of the problem and social injustice. However, for now, let that be food for thought.
Humans of New York for the Holidays
If you couldn’t already tell, I LOVE Humans of New York. It might be my favorite example of social media and hands down my favorite Facebook friend in my 8 years of Facebooking. With that, I bring to you one last example that shows that crowd-sourcing does not always involve money. When Brandon first arrived in New York, he did not have the money to go home for the holidays, so he spent Christmas day sitting in a 24-hour diner by himself. Now fast forward several years…Brandon’s girlfriend, Erin, set up a system that helps lonely New Yorkers find a home for the holidays. People with extra seats at their table are matched with people that have nowhere to go for Christmas. Although this may scream “stranger danger”, each of the parties are screened and acquainted with each other before the holiday so that there are no surprises. I love this idea and I think that this small act of kindness during the holidays could mean the world to someone who doesn’t have a place to go.
If anyone has other examples of heartwarming stories of crowd-sourcing on the Internet, I would love to hear about them!