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This is the time of the year where if you listen to NPR you encounter the scourge of every freeloading public good exploiter such as ourselves: the pledge drive.

We know you value quality news coverage. We know you like how NPR employs people with improbable names like "Sylvia Poggioli" and "Kai Rysdaal" Did you know that we actually give them new names when they come to work for NPR, and that they must abandon their old lives, personalities, and everything they own? THIS IS ALL IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT YOU BLAH BLAH TOTE BAG--

Fortunately we do not have to do that thanks to the good graces of our corporate sponsors. We do like to ask you to give, and to give in service of two of our favorite causes: refugee service and pure hatin' rivalry.

Thus begins the EDSBS Annual Fundraiser, which may end with us getting a tattoo. Continue after the jump for details.

The Recipients: Refugee, Resettlement, and Immigration Services of Atlanta, a subsidiary of Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries. They help resettle refugees to the United States, and now it's time for a short tutorial so you'll be the informed donor you should be. HELLO ADORABLE REFUGEE CHILDREN LEARNING THINGS:



In case you've missed the short biography, I used to work in the refugee community in Clarkston, Georgia, and was quite bad at it. There were many people, however, who were quite good at what they did. Many of them are at RRISA, and continue to do that work every day.

The following is a fun, easy how-to on how to become a refugee.

  1. Have someone kick you out of your country at gunpoint or in some other menacing manner.
  2. Go to a second country, live in a tent (or worse still, without a tent.)
  3. Land somewhere else where you don't speak the language, have no money, and likely only have the clothes on your back and your high school diploma taped to your leg for safe-keeping. Oh, and you might have children with you, too. Small, terrified children.

It's a bad thing to be, and the United States accepts a given number of them a year as part of an international humanitarian agreement with Great Britain, Canada, and other countries who offer them some form of haven.

The process is conducted through contractor agencies like RRISA. Refugees take the most longest plane flight of their lives to the United States from one of any number of troubled places: Congo, Sudan, Burma, Bhutan/Nepal, Somalia, Burundi, Iraq...there's not really a shortage. They are not granted citizenship, though that is a long-term option. They are given work permits and a case worker who will assist them in finding a job. The sponsoring agency finds them an apartment, their children are enrolled in school, and in six months it is sink-or-swim for someone who seven months earlier was sitting in a refugee camp half a world away thinking in another language.

Think about what you've had to deal with in the past six months, and it is unlikely to compare. If it does, you are a refugee who has acquired an appetite for college football, and this bodes very well for your chances of successful assimilation into a happy American life. Congratulations.

RRISA does all of this, settling over 550 refugees in the Atlanta area in the year 2010, and does it with a budget mostly derived from Federal funding. That's been a bit shy lately, and this is where your love for your alma mater and hatred for someone else's comes in handy.

THE GIVING AND THE FORMAT WE LIKE IT IN: Scores, of course. Donations will go to RRISA's general fund for all services including resettlement, children's programs, employment, and family support. For the sake of competition, we suggest you give in the form of a score from a game you remember fondly. For instance, we'd suggest giving $34.31 if you were a Florida fan, or perhaps $31.06 if you were an Alabama fan, or maybe even $37.60 if you were an Iowa fan wishing to rub it in the eyes of a Michigan State fan.

The donations page has been calibrated to allow cents on the online donations form, so have at it, spite-lords.

VERY IMPORTANT THING: After you specify your gift, please select the "SPECIAL EVENT" tab from the Donation Detalis options and enter "EDSBS/[YOUR SCHOOL]" in the form specifying your school, and leave the address as "NA" if you don't want to send someone a letter showing off your charity. We'll keep a tally by school and update the standings for most and least charitable schools. In past fundraisers the Midwest leads the way, so step up your game, SEC-ers. The Slow States lead us in charitable giving, and this cannot stay if we are truly to be a conference of champions. (Also, they're REALLY smug about it while being absolutely right, the worst kind of smugtivity.)

THE GIVE AND THE GET: The winning school by donation will receive their own huge list--and we mean HUGE--of all the things that make them awesome, fictional and real. We'll also trick out EDSBS in their school colors for the week and build in a week of customized programming for them along the way. 

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. If you, the EDSBS Commentariat, somehow go insane and raise $50,000 as a community, we will get a tattoo of your choosing. There are a few rules:

  1. No profanities. I'm not going around with a popular sentiment about Clemson on our bodies for the rest of our life.
  2. We choose the tattoo artist, placement, and size
  3. We will be fair about the size.
  4. Not on the chest, though. I'm not shaving the Selleck.
  5. The tattoo must be a logo or symbol, not words. 
  6. The tattoo must not be Florida State-affiliated. Leave us the shreds of our dignity.

There. IS THAT COMMITMENT ENOUGH FOR YOU? Do some good, embarrass your less charitable rivals, and potentially ink history onto my tender flesh in the name of charity. This will run through the week with frequent, possibly gently annoying reminders. Do your best, or as it applies to our very skin, your worst. The competition ends on Friday, and a word of warning: we've cheated and placed Florida in the lead to get this started.

(Full disclosure: I'm friends with the director of RRISA. Don't let this spoil your opinion of them or her. however.)