We want you to donate $5.00 – and not a penny more.

– Posted by Leah

Most of you have probably heard the term “care package” before. What you might not know…. unless you were alive during World War II… is that the term was coined by the organization I work for, CARE. For two decades following World War II, Americans donated money (around $10/box) so that CARE could purchase food, medicine, blankets, and school supplies to be shipped to friends or family members in Europe. Back then, CARE was an acronym for Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe. If someone wanted to send a CARE package to Europe, but didn’t know the address of the person they were sending it to, CARE would track down the contact information and deliver the package.

The NY Times recently featured a couple who participated in the CARE package program – one was a giver, the other a receiver. It’s a sweet love story, and you know I love those.

In the 1960s, Europe was bouncing back from the war and CARE shifted its focus to emergency relief and long-term development projects. We also changed our name, while keeping the acronym the same… CARE now stands for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere.

And we do mean everywhere. We work all over the world to fight poverty. We focus on empowering women and girls. Why? Because after years of doing this work, it has become apparent that women are more likely to invest the money they earn into things like education, savings, generating more income. Men spend larger portions of their income on drinking and gambling. Ok, I don’t say this to knock the men of the world. I know plenty of men who don’t spend ANY money on drinking and gambling. I’m just telling you what multiple studies and multiple observations and multiple development organizations have discovered. Take it or leave it. We find that our approach is quite successful. It doesn’t mean that we don’t focus on men, either. We do. Men and boys are an integral part of society. They are also at an advantage in most cultures around the world. Simply because they are male, they are entitled to certain privileges that women are not.

In Ethiopia there are clinics for people suffering from severe malnutrition (aka starvation). The patients in these clinics? All female. Why? Because when food is scarce and you live in a culture that values men more than women, the boys get to eat first. The girls go hungry.

In Sierra Leone, Nepal, Afghanistan, Yemen girls between the ages of 11 and 16 are forced to marry and bear children against their will, often with devastating health consequences.

On the flip side, we have seen that when girls are fed, educated, and given basic health care, they grow up to have fewer children, to seek economic opportunities and reinvest in their communities, and to ensure that their children also have the opportunity to go to school.

We call this The Girl Effect:

It’s not easy work, shifting cultural values and creating social change. But we have some amazing staff around the world who have innovative ways for reaching out to their communities and starting dialogue. They do this through theater, through games, through support and advocacy groups, through woman-to-woman conversations. It’s not a quick fix. But slowly, women are changing their worlds. And you can help.

We’re bringing back the CARE package, except this time it’s virtual. Mark and I are hoping to raise $1,000.

That means we need 200 people to donate $5 – and not a penny more – to our group CARE package. $5 is half the cost of sending a CARE package back in the 1940s…and back then $5 went 5 times farther than it does today. We hope you’ll help us. And if you’re totally broke right now and can’t spare the extra cash, there are other ways to help – you can still join our CARE package, and instead of donating money, you can make a pledge to advocate on behalf of women and girls around the world.

Want to help? Here’s what to do:

1. Go to http://www.carepackage.org/join-group-care-package
2. Find the LeahAndMark.com group – you’ll see our picture! Click on it. Then click Join!
3. Sign up, log in, and then you can select which items to drag and drop into the CARE package. You can choose an item that costs money (drag the sliding bar to select the amount), or you can make an advocacy pledge.
4. That’s it! Thank you. You ROCK.

Posted by Leah