#fastathon12 tweets!

MSA’s 2012 Fast-A-Thon is coming up this Monday, November 5th! Please read up on the cause and try your best to attend. Donations to our campaign are much appreciated. MSA-ers are getting excited about the cause, and we’d like to show our appreciation. Here are a few of the responses we’ve gotten on Twitter. Use the hashtag #fastathon12 and you might also be on the blog (we’ll update this regularly until the event is over). Campus community members who use the hashtag and let @MichiganMuslims know will be entered into a prize raffle.

Fast-A-Thon 2012: On Charities and Choices

Agreeing on a charity to partner with is a perennial challenge for student organizations. Impact is important, but so is the coherence—do the organizations’ missions line up? Thankfully, MSA-ers are such a diverse group that very few charitable causes could be considered outside the group’s scope. As planning began for the 11th annual Fast-A-Thon campaign, questions over which nonprofit would be our partner this year came up. Betul Tatar, MSA’s Community Service co-chair, shares her thoughts on the decision to partner with Forgotten Harvest this year.

“So did you guys decide on a Fast-A-Thon cause yet?”

Being part of the Fast-A-Thon planning team, I received this question a lot last spring. We did have a cause that we were very passionate about—fighting hunger and food waste in the metro-Detroit area. We even partnered with Forgotten Harvest, a non-profit organization that rescues prepared and perishable food, and delivers it to emergency food providers. Every time I gave my monologue about Forgotten Harvest, however, I saw the mixed facial expressions of my friends. “Umm…. Nice!” was the typical response, expressed with anything but passion. A brave friend outlined the ‘problem’ for me: “Well, don’t expect people to be excited about a local cause when there’s so much going on everywhere in the world! You could’ve helped Syria, Myanmar, anywhere!”

It was convincing. With so many global causes to choose from, any local cause shouldn’t have been our priority. For the rest of spring, I was tempted to talk to the Fast-A-Thon team and convince them to avoid this “mistake.” A part of me, however, kept me from raising the issue.

Thankfully, summer break gave me a chance to rethink and avoid a big mistake myself. When I went back to Turkey for my summer vacation, I had the honor of talking to a representative from a well-established Turkish non-profit. As we chatted about his organization’s summer plans, he told me that they didn’t have many Ramadan campaigns going on and asked me, “What do you think is the reason, Betul? Why would a large-scale organization like us not make record donations during the Holy Month?” Seeing that I was clueless, he told me that all the other organizations in Turkey, small or big, were spending all their resources to alleviate hunger during Ramadan. Yet, once the month was over, those in need would spend the months that follow Ramadan suffering from hunger. By saving these resources, their non-profit would be able to help people throughout the year, especially after Ramadan.

This discussion still resonates with me, as it helped me avoid a big mistake. Donating to Forgotten Harvest for Fast-A-Thon 2012 and saving resources for post-Ramadan donations might seem unrelated, but the principle behind them is the same. Chatting with the representative helped me realize that community service is not only giving to any community or donating to the most prominent cause. Instead, it requires a deeper level of thinking: to understand the needs of the community at large. As I see it, donating to a global cause is similar to giving away most resources during Ramadan, not because “the global cause” is unimportant, but because it naturally attracts a wide audience. Just as families still suffer from poverty after Ramadan, hunger and other problems still exist in local settings while we focus all our attention on prominent causes. I sincerely support the global campaigns because as my friend expressed, there really is so much going on in the world that requires immediate help and attention. But I also believe that we as a student organization shouldn’t forget the strife in our own backyard during these times, where four million households in Michigan live at risk of hunger.

My passion for Forgotten Harvest has multiplied since last spring. I can’t wait to “Fast for the Forgotten” on Monday, November 5th and listen to your unique reasons for supporting this cause. Hope to see you all at the REAL Hunger Games!

You can donate for our Forgotten Harvest Fast-A-Thon campaign here.

Register for Fast-A-Thon 2012: The REAL Hunger Games here.