Friday, December 12, 1997

The Josiah Carberry Fribble
by Selena Maranjian (

It's the latest rage -- everyone's doing it. Well, almost everybody.

(I'll admit it upfront. This Fribble is about giving. Despite that, I'll be trying my darnedest to make it interesting, so please keep reading.)

Oprah Winfrey just donated $1 million to Morehouse College. Michael and Jane Eisner just contributed a million shares of Disney stock (currently worth nearly $100 million) to establish a foundation to help children. "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz is giving $1 million for a D-Day Memorial. NBA star Steve Smith has given $2.5 million to Michigan State University, in honor of his mother.

Even Ted Turner has caught the bug, albeit not quietly, earmarking a fraction of his wealth -- a massive $1 billion -- to the United Nations. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are giving millions to wire public libraries for cyberspace.

It's not just the rich and famous giving, either. Recently, a retired 73-year old New Jersey woman won a pre-tax lump sum of $11.8 million in a lottery. (I tremble as I type, fearing that this might entice someone to play the lottery. Remember that you probably have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than of winning a major lottery.) She has given away about $8 million of it already, which is just about all of it, when you consider her taxes due.

It should therefore not come as too much of a surprise that even Fools are giving. We launched the Fool Charity Fund on November 12th, inviting all our readers to plop a farthing or three into coffers earmarked for the innovative organization Share Our Strength. As Fools like to dream, we had visions of us all banding together in the spirit of giving. Through a united effort, we'd help establish community kitchens across the country, which not only fed the hungry, but also provided work training for the homeless and disenfranchised. Sheesh... what could be more worthwhile than this?

About a week later, our fund was crammed with over $10,000. A week after that, $20,000. At last count, our fund held $34,910. Is this good? You bet. It represents a lot of generous individuals who answered an important call. Could these totals be bigger? They sure could. If the average gift given is a mere $10 (and truth be told, I have no clue as to what the average gift is), our current total represents 3,491 kind-hearted Fools.

There are hundreds of thousands of you out there reading, though. Many of you probably have fine reasons for not contributing to our fund. Perhaps you intend to give to some other charity. Maybe you want to give $50 and you need to wait for that next paycheck. Perhaps we were a little late and you just gave a sizable gift to some other worthy cause. Or maybe you think this is all a silly bunch of bunk. Fine reasons, all. (Well, except for that last one.)

Still, we'd like for you to consider donating something anyway. Anything. I went to Brown University, where every Friday the 13th was Carberry Day, commemorating the late Psychoceramics Professor Josiah Carberry. According to tradition, on such days, all Brown people were to dig into their pockets and donate whatever loose change they found to the library.

In this spirit, we'd be delighted to receive packets of loose change from you. Given the cost of postage, though, it might be cheaper to contribute a dollar. If every Fool out there donated a dollar, we'd increase our current coffers by some 2,000%.

Why should Fools be measured by some mechanical website impression meter? Let's all stand up and be counted by our gifts!

If you've been meaning to give and just haven't gotten around to it yet, consider tossing in $19.95 or more. As some folks eloquently suggested in our AOL SOS message folder, consider it a 13th month. In their words:

"I would like to challenge EVERYONE on AOL to contribute to this worthy cause. If you can afford $19.95 a month, you can give something for a one-time gift to help these people help themselves."

"Right on, Fool! In fact, if every user in Fooldom would declare a 13th Month to their AOL/ISP access budget, and send $19.95 to Share Our Strength, we could probably make the Guinness Book of World Records -- not just for the first online charity drive -- but maybe even the most money ever collected in such a short time... Imagine... 500,000 Fools sending $19.95.... hmm... 500k x 19.95.... move the decimal point... er, um... Holy Motley! That's 9.975 MILLION DOLLARS."
-- TMF Jeanie

'Nuff said.

Howzabout it, fellow Fools? Please consider digging through your pockets and sending in a mite or so. See who's already joined this ship of Fools and have your name added to the list.

>>> How to donate<<<

Fool on!

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