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Tag Archives | Haiti

Haitian relief, now in fourteen fashion colors

 

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What do we think about this display? Apparently if you buy this bag from Ralph Lauren’s Rugby shop, for $35, 50 meals will be provided to Haitian schoolchildren through the UN World Food Program. This display should make me happy, yes? Feeding schoolchildren is good; Haitian relief effort, also good; targeting affluent college kids (this store is on University Place, just from the NYU campus), that’s gotta be good.

Somehow, though, despite all good intentions of the part of the store, this display irked me. Perhaps it’s the wild disparity between what it costs to feed a Haitian kid (50 meals for 35 bucks? that’s not very much food), and what the outfits on the mannequin cost:  the “Ashlin X Rugby” is 89.50; the fleece shorts are 59.50; the “pointelle cotton ruffle dress” is $178; god only knows what you’d pay for those leg-warmers that look like they cut the arms of an old-fashioned tennis sweater (and we won’t ask why you’d wear leg-warmers and shorts. If you’re cold, put on pants). Those outfits, cashed in, would buy a lot of lunches for little kids.

If you dig around on the Rugby Ralph Lauren website, you find that the store is also selling a Haiti Relief t-shirt designed by CFDA for $25, with the entire proceeds going to Haitian relief through the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (Bubba and Dubya doing good works togetha).  And that’s a good thing too, that money from these t-shirt sales will continue to fund relief efforts, long after all the movie stars have stopped answering phones at the telethon.

What is it, then, that bugs me, aside from a case of late February misanthrope-itis? Maybe it’s my populist streak coming out again, along with those gray roots I keep forgetting to get touched up? Couldn’t Ralph Lauren just give, outright, a big huge freaking check to the World Food Program, or the Bubba Dubya foundation, or Doctors Without Borders, or whichever organization suits his sensibility? Does he (and others like him) really need to shill a canvas bag–use the bag, in fact, as bait to lure shoppers into the shore? Come in to buy a bag, walk out with weird tennis sweaters for your legs?

I gave money to Haiti, I will continue to give money to Haiti, I hope we all continue to help re-build that country. But the Feed Haiti bag reminds me that all too often, “good works” are accompanied by a sense of self-aggrandizement: look at me! I’m helping!

That self-aggrandizement shouldn’t matter, right? What should matter–what does matter–is that money keeps funneling to those who are on the ground in Haiti. That’s the big picture.  So if Rugby Ralph needs to flog a bag and a t-shirt on his website so that everyone knows what a mensch he is, fine, I guess. But there’s no way I’m buying those leg warmers.

Continue Reading · on February 24, 2010 in Politics, Products

Every Penny Counts…

Tonight I asked Caleb and Liam where we should send our donations to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti.  I know they can’t know about the earthquake and they can’t even begin to understand their own privileged position in the world: sitting in a warm apartment eating a warm dinner (or a cold PBJ in Caleb’s case) and with an apparently endless stream of cold milk flowing out of the fridge. 

I explained that we didn’t have a lot of money, but that we were still way better off that the people of Haiti, and that we should try to help in any way we can, so how did they think we should spend our donation dollars? I explained a little about  Doctors Without Borders and Charity:Water and about the people who help build shelters. Liam thought maybe houses, but then decided doctors. Caleb thought water, and that we should all send water bottles to Haiti, too.  Then he climbed down from the table and said, they can have my money too. All my moneys that I’ve been finding all over.  

He trotted out from the bedroom holding his Altoids box, filled with mostly foreign currency and an astonishing number of quarters, which explains what happens to the loose change on my desk.  Offering to donate his findings to Haiti does mitigate his burgeoning klepto tendencies, I have to admit. 

After counting out his change and putting aside the Korean nickels, it came to $3.42, so we’ll add that amount to what we send to charity:water.  Liam wants to contribute to Doctors Without Borders, so we’ll do that too.

It’s not much, in the scheme of things, but it’s something.

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Continue Reading · on January 17, 2010 in Children

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