Save the Day

The film [Waiting for Superman] generally posits that everyone in this country’s public-school system is waiting—waiting for the teachers’ union to figure itself out, waiting for charter-school lottery results, waiting for budget figures that inevitably shrink. Waiting to get rescued.

Wait over, super-friends.

No, Superman isn’t coming. He isn’t coming because he’s already here. The superhero we need here is you. The red planet that invested you with great powers here on Earth is…you.

Maybe you don’t have X-ray vision and you can’t lift a car with one hand. You don’t need to. You just need a few bucks, and a few friends with a few bucks. You just need to let students and teachers know that somebody’s coming to rescue them, that they shouldn’t give up.
— Sarah Bunting, TomatoNation.com

So. I’m shaking the cyber-dust off my blog to invite you to be a part of something awesome: the annual Tomato Nation contest for DonorsChoose.org.

Sarah, the writer of Tomato Nation, explains it best:

In a nutshell, DonorsChoose.org is an organization that puts donors together directly with projects in public schools. Teachers whose classrooms lack supplies and funding post their projects to the DC website; donors choose (see?) which one, or ones, to contribute to, and can contribute as much or as little as they like. So, if you want to make sure kids get to read Animal Farm, you can give $10 (or $100, or $1000) to an Orwell project; if you’d rather focus on a school from your hometown, or where a friend of yours teaches, you can do that too.

The projects posted at DonorsChoose cover almost every topic you can think of. For instance, one teacher is requesting a digital camera to document one of her students’ projects. Another teacher is building an orchestra program from the ground up. Other requests are for much more basic items, such as a classroom pencil sharpener or a supply of copy paper.

I know a lot of people, especially teachers, are probably going to read this and think about how unfair it is that there’s even a need for this. And they’re right. In a perfect world, DonorsChoose wouldn’t have to exist.

But I like to focus instead on WHY we do this. Again, Sars says it much better than I can:

Hope is what you give these kids, these teachers and schools. It’s not about the crayons or the turtles or the overhead projectors; they need those things, but mostly they need to know people give a damn. At least a little suck into every life must fall, but the worst part of any suck is thinking that no one cares, that you’ll have to live with it on your own.  One of the sweetest phrases in English, after “I love you” and “open bar,” is “damn, that does suck,” coupled with a pat on the shoulder.  It lets you keep going.

That’s why I get so excited about this proejct every year; why I always say it’s awesome. It’s a feeling like no other. Find a project that gets you excited, and send in $20. Or $10. Or the spare change you found under the couch. Even a little bit makes a huge difference.

This year, the TN readers have been able to set up their own pages. So I’ve highlighted several projects here. A list of all the giving pages participating is here, on Tomato Nation’s leaderboard.

If you can’t make a donation, you can still help—spread the word! Please! Share this on Facebook. Tweet it and re-tweet it. Tell your friends, family, teachers, co-workers, and people you pass in the street. The goal is $250,000 by April 30. Let’s save the day.

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