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Joining “Hope for Haiti Now”

January 28th, 2010

Two semesters at John Carroll University, the gestation period of an elephant, the decomposition of Styrofoam, and the average amount of time a college graduate has spent drinking instead of studying; all these are events that lasted longer than Conan O’Brien’s time hosting “The Tonight Show.”

But this column, much like NBC, is not dedicated to O’Brien, because there was a bigger television event last Friday night.

“Hope for Haiti Now,” a two-hour telethon, was designed to bring together the largest stars to motivate donations. More than 16 million viewers tuned in to watch as George Clooney hosted an evening of big talent and even bigger donations.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the program aired on at least 11 networks. For the brief two hours, there were no politics, no stations bidding for the highest rating, and no one complaining about his or her $37 million signing bonus.

Some may argue that the reason there were so many viewers was because nothing else was on television to compete, but that doesn’t explain the inordinate amount of money raised that night.

“Hope for Haiti Now” raked in over $57 million and counting. I think it is incredible.

In 18 countries, the “Hope for Haiti Now” album is number one on the iTunes charts and the money collected from the sales is being added to the total from the telethon.

After a natural disaster, I expect Oprah to have a special and the President to make a speech, but I really like it when everyone gets involved. 

It is amazing to me that, in this time of economic crisis, we’re finding ways to donate millions to a country with whom we have little in common. It wouldn’t surprise me if John Carroll students were among those donating on Friday. 

If they weren’t watching the telethon, Jake’s Speakeasy was also collecting donations for Haiti relief efforts that night. Dan Krajcik organized a benefit dance to raise money for the cause. 

Apparently around $1500 was collected at the dance that night. I have been incredibly impressed by the generosity exhibited during the past two weeks. One of my friends told me he gave his most recent paycheck in its entirety to a Haiti relief effort.

Another friend told me about Jen Ziemke, an assistant political science professor at JCU, who is donating her time to help with crisis mapping. The Web site could be used to help volunteers locate Haitians and bring them the supplies they need. 

JCU alumnus, Michael Henry, is giving even more than donations. He is the International Projects Manager for Cross International and his current job description involves working directly with the Haitian people. 

When in today’s society it seems as though everything is a competition and there is always something remedial to complain about, it is comforting to know that at least, when we need to, we can come together.