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The Sound of Spirit of Charity

September 9, 2004

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    Photo: Paige Coleman/Mercy Corps Photo:

What do you get when you combine Mercy Corps, Norwegian generosity and a 35-member accordion group?

The answer is True Norsk, a day of fun for a good cause: Mercy Corps’ humanitarian aid programs.

The Portland, Oregon chapter of Sons of Norway, the largest Norwegian-American organization in the world, is staging True Norsk as a benefit for Mercy Corps. The event, which will be held on October 2, 2004, will feature authentic Norwegian food, arts and lore, as well as Lindesnes Trekkspilliklubb, a “renowned and wacky” accordion band.

Julie Whipple, the True Norsk co-chair, said the event is an opportunity to have fun while helping make a difference for the world’s neediest people. “The Scandinavian nations are global leaders in their per-capita support of development, education, health, humanitarian and peace-keeping initiatives worldwide,” she explained. “True Norsk is about reflecting this spirit and cultural heritage here in Portland, and having a good time doing it.”

Historically, Norway has maintained a heritage of helping others. This small nation with a big heart is the world’s fifth-largest donor overall and largest per-capita donor. Norway is currently setting an example for the world’s developed nations as one of only five countries that devotes the .7% of gross domestic product to international aid suggested by the United Nations. Even though Norway is home to a tiny percentage of the global population, it operates an impressive 10% of the world’s largest charities.

Sons of Norway’s Portland chapter, the Grieg Lodge, is determined to maintain that tradition of charity by partnering with Mercy Corps, an international leader in relief and development.

The decision to donate proceeds from True Norsk to Mercy Corps was an easy decision for Grieg Lodge members.

“It’s part of our mission to reflect the values of Norway, and we wanted to find a local organization that was in line with our goals,” Whipple said. “It made the best sense to partner with our neighbor in Portland. Mercy Corps reflects what Sons of Norway reflects: direct service with few administrative costs. Mercy Corps uses its resources wisely.”

Mercy Corps, which maintains close ties with many organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest, is also enthusiastic about its new relationship with Sons of Norway.

"Mercy Corps is honored to join the Scandinavian community in bringing help and hope to those in need," said Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer. "We have worked with Scandinavian colleagues in many of the world's most troubled places, and have seen the commitment to make our world better that runs deep within the Scandinavian spirit."

So, what is the sound of 35 accordions playing?

That's the melody of tradition, collaboration and hope.