In the wake of a tragedy such as Hurricane Katrina, those not directly affected often feel helpless. They may wonder how they can possibly make a difference 1,100 miles away from the devastation.
Steve Hofstetter, however, a writer and stand-up comedian who increased his visibility among the college-aged demographic by joining facebook.com, recently asked all 182,595 of his Facebook friends to donate two cents for each friend they have to hurricane relief.
The 26-year-old comedian is not collecting the money, but instead asks that students choose their own charity and write back to him with how much they gave.
“I don’t want to mandate who they donate to,” Hofstetter said. “People are writing back saying they donated two bucks, or they donated 200. Two dollars at a time really does make a difference.”
Indeed, two cents per friend does not sound like a lot of money. While students may be skeptical of how that can possibly help, Hofstetter explains on his Web site how such a small donation can add up to a substantial amount of relief.
“If you have 300 friends, you’ll be donating $6,” he wrote. “But if all of my Facebook friends do it, that’s over a $1,000,000 in aid.” To be exact, his 182,598 friends have the potential to raise $1,095,588.
Hofstetter said he personally recommends the Red Cross American Hurricane Relief Fund, but believes this is not the time to argue over which organizations do the best work.
“All I ask is that students don’t send cases of water because the Red Cross could buy it much cheaper,” he said.
Cassie Tilley, junior chemistry major and one of Hofstetter’s 563 facebook.com friends from the College, received his message. “I thought it was really touching,” Tilley said.
“It was great that he used what little power he has through Facebook for such a good cause. I had already donated five dollars at the Ewing Shop Rite before receiving it, which is much more than two cents per friend. Hopefully every one of his friends did something similar. Every little bit helps.”
Hofstetter also ends his comedy routine with a plea for his fans to donate, and College students were some of the first to hear it when he performed in Kendall Hall Sept. 1.
“It’s absolutely devastating and we need to help,” Hofstetter said. “There are relief shows everywhere, and I shouldn’t get any special recognition. My question to those who have a stage and aren’t doing anything is, ‘Why not?'”
Donations can be made to the American Red Cross at redcross.org/donate/donation-form.asp.