Fifty days to make a big difference for youth

United States, November 12, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Heather Mangrum/Mercy Corps  </span>
    (Back Row, L-R) Mercy Corps Educators Sarah Bever and Gil Corral, Jeremy Barnicle, and Global Citizen Corps (GCC) Program Manager Sailesh Naidu with GCC program participants at New York City's Lincoln Center. Photo: Heather Mangrum/Mercy Corps

On Tuesday, November 9, Mercy Corps joined Boys & Girls Clubs of America, CARE USA, Save the Children and U.S. Fund for UNICEF at the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s breathtaking Allen Room in New York City. The occasion was a kick-off event for Western Union’s 50 Days of Giving, a national campaign designed to help raise charitable giving awareness.

This special launch featured a live performance by Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend and the introduction of — an online voting site to encourage consumers to take an active role in supporting the five charities featured in the campaign this holiday season. The organization receiving the most online votes by December 25 will receive a $150,000 grant from Western Union.

While the other organizations were all well-represented by friends who came out to support their respective campaigns, Mercy Corps had the loudest cheering section, led by New York City high school students participating in its Global Citizen Corps (GCC) youth program.

Earlier that day, these GCC students participated in their first video conference at the Action Center to End World Hunger with students from Khanaquin, Iraq. The students from Iraq spoke about their lives during conflict, and the students from New York listened and reflected on their own experience with gang violence in their communities.

Fully energized by the video conference and proudly wearing bright red Mercy Corps t-shirts, these enthusiastic youth leaders let everyone at the event know who they should vote for during the 50 Days of Giving campaign contest.

“In building support for the work we do around the world, we also saw the need to educate our youth at home,” I explained to the crowd of foundation executives and supporters. “Through Global Citizens Corps, we are teaching this community of young people to serve as active global citizens for the future.”

If Mercy Corps wins the 50 Days of Giving contest, $50,000 of the prize grant will be used to sponsor a GCC international youth conference, in which GCC leaders from each of our country programs will get to work with each other, receive training from Mercy Corps staff and develop their capacity to be effective community leaders.

As of this posting, Mercy Corps was leading the voting and — if the GCC youth leaders have any say — Mercy Corps emerge as the winner on December 25.