Aid Group Hopes To Raise $1 Million For World Hunger
BOSTON (AP) _ Oxfam America hopes to raise at least $1 million from schoolchildren, workers and other people taking part in Thursday’s 12th annual Fast for a World Harvest to ease the problem of world hunger.
″We ask people to either fast for the day or to skip one meal today and donate what they would have spent to Oxfam America,″ said spokesman Scott Slater.
″The fast has always been for us a way to talk about world hunger,″ said coordinator Betsy Ringel. ″It’s because 15 million children die each year from hunger and hunger-related causes.″
She said the recent attention on the starving people of Ethiopia has helped raise the consciousness of Americans to problems there, but famine exists in other parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The idea of a fast the Thursday before Thanksgiving began in 1974 and has raised $4.5 million for Oxfam, including $1.5 million last year, the best ever.
″There are over 3,000 groups taking part this year around the country, on college campuses, in high schools, churches, synagogues, in the workplace,″ said Ms. Ringel. She said it would be several weeks before it is known how much money was raised.
The Boston-based Oxfam America organizes hunger relief, but its chief focus is on providing self-help projects to help emerging nations develop their own food production and economic self-reliance.
″We believe it’s OK to feed somebody today, but we want to look at long term solutions for tomorrow,″ she said. ″People would much rather accept the tools of work than accept a handout.
″People’s dignity is something that is very important.″
From all sources, Oxfam raised about $6 million in contributions in the last fiscal year.
Many of Oxfam’s staffers spent the day giving lectures to organizations, but those at the group’s headquarters had their own fast.
″In addition to having no lunch, at Oxfam everyone comes together at noon,″ said Ms. Ringel. ″We share poetry, music, stories - anything that moves you at the moment to take your mind off your grumbling stomach.″