Fall is here. The cooler air is starting to move in. Thank goodness! This is a great time for running, biking or just taking a stroll. With the coming of autumn you can get some very good scenic workouts. And some Charity Miles!
It was a year ago when I first heard about Charity Miles. Alanna Imbach and Ekaterina Oshepkova of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) kept tweeting about it. WFP is the largest food aid organization providing relief in Syria, Mali, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Haiti and many other countries.
Alanna and Ekaterina were getting in some great workouts. By doing so they were raising money for WFP. What was this Charity Miles I wondered? I thought maybe I could do this too.
They filled me in on the details. With the Charity Miles app you walk, run or bike and raise funds for WFP and other organizations. All you need is a smartphone. I bought one, downloaded the free app, and followed the easy set up instructions.
And I was off to the races. Well, sort of. I had been doing some walking but I needed to get into shape to do running again too. The chance to actually take a walk or run and raise funds for the World Food Programme and Feeding America, two organizations I write about, is a unique experience.
On Thanksgiving Day I ran over nine miles for the World Food Programme, Feeding America and Stand Up 2 Cancer. You can raise money for multiple organizations in the same day or just pick one. At one point this year Charity Miles told me I was ranked 4th among those raising funds for the World Food Programme.
Once you get started others will see what you are doing. I have talked about Charity Miles at classes and churches. I even talk about it sometimes while in line at the store. Or even just on the street.
While speaking to a College of Mount St. Joseph class in February there was a great surprise. Professor Jeff Hillard added an extra credit component of Charity Miles to his Cincinnati Authors course. And the students started racking up the miles.
Soon I made contact with a group on the Mount St. Joseph campus called the Campus Activities Board. They really took Charity Miles to great heights at the college. There are now runners and walkers at the Mount raising funds for WFP, Feeding America, Autism Speaks, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Stand Up 2 Cancer, Wounded Warrior Project and many other charities.
I would recommend to anyone trying to start Charity Miles at a college to contact the activities board at the campus or any existing hunger fighting organizations. For instance, with Ithaca College they have a great student-led program called Food for Thought. This groups does an annual Walk for Plumpy’Nut, a food that saves the lives of infants. They also meet routinely to learn about hunger issues and have their own FreeRice team. I just proposed they add Charity Miles to Food for Thought’s schedule.
So many of us have the smartphones and do the workouts anyway. Why not be raising money for charity at the same time? Beyond that is the most important of them all: impact. For instance, a group of Charity Milers could raise funds on any given day for the World Food Programme and make an impact statement for Syrian relief. I just proposed this Charity Miles initiative for helping Syria to a U.N. Development Goals class at Mount St. Joseph.
WFP needs about U.S. $30 million a week to provide food to Syrian war victims. As they rely entirely on voluntary contributions, any bit means a lot. Just getting a mile means a couple meals donated.
You can be a sports ambassador for many causes using Charity Miles. So it is the perfect time to be raising funds for the World Food Programme and Feeding America. Globally there are 842 million people who are hungry. Here in the United States 50 million people are considered “food insecure.”
With Charity Miles, you can help both WFP and Feeding America. Funds can be raised, but also remember that impact statement. The more knowledge of what you do, the more advocacy that can reach the halls of government where food aid budgets and policy are determined.
So tweet and facebook your results as much as possible. Running and walking may be quiet activities in themselves. With Charity Miles every step speaks loudly. Every step helps someone in need. As fall is here, no better time get started with Charity Miles to end hunger.
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