What 1,000 Points of Light Really Look Like

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Like a page out of a holiday classic, a touch of magic has come to the CAPS blogs over the past few days. The result is a story that I think you'll be inspired to hear.

Through the sheer generosity of spirit among the individual investors that make up the Motley Fool CAPS community, what began as a simple reminder about The Motley Fool's annual Foolanthropy campaign morphed into a spontaneous outpouring of support with a life all its own.

You have to see it to believe it. I set out merely to remind community members that The Motley Fool will donate $0.10 to this year's selected charity for every comment posted to the company's website between now and Jan. 8, for a total community-driven contribution of up to $20,000. Giving your two cents to a discussion is always fun, but when your two cents triggers a dime in charitable giving, the compulsion to post highly entertaining quips and random rhymes becomes downright infectious.

The cause is the cause of excitement
Several of The Motley Fool's recent Foolanthropy campaigns have supported programs to promote financial literacy, and this year I found the Fool's selection of a single public charter school that's demonstrably improving the lives of young people particularly compelling. In an area of our nation's capital in which only one in three students completes high school within five years, the Thurgood Marshall Academy has graduated five consecutive classes of seniors with an incredible 100% college acceptance rate.

In addition, The Motley Fool is integrating an exciting element of volunteerism into this year's effort. Throughout the year, members of the Motley Fool staff will conduct seminars and financial-preparedness workshops for both students and parents at Thurgood Marshall Academy. If that inspires you, perhaps you will find ways to volunteer for schools in your community or through organizations like Junior Achievement or Operation Hope.

Feel the magic: get involved
After Fools began to offer challenge-based matching support, pledges began to pile in like generous clowns into a Beetle. As of this writing, the blog post has generated more than 1,450 comments and generated pledges totaling $2,410. Spurred by your kind pledges to inspire the community to reach 2,000 comments, the momentum of giving is bound to continue.

What we saw over the weekend is that 1,000 points of light and more are shining brilliantly within the CAPS community. I believe that those lights can burn more brightly still. With a fresh infusion of pledges to support the Thurgood Marshall Academy, I believe that we can accumulate the 2,000 comments we need to trigger an additional $1,000 challenge-based pledge issued by Fool co-Founder Tom Gardner Monday evening. Tom has challenged the community to include helpful discussion of financial topics within these comments that can be incorporated into the teaching element of this partnership with the school.

With more than 145,000 members, the CAPS community is sufficiently large that a number of smaller pledges can have a sizeable impact upon this exceptional public charter school. To get a sense of scale, let me put the potential impact in terms of some of the stocks we all follow:

  • For less than the price of a single share of DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS  ) -- which I consider the world's scariest stock -- you can help make the world of finance feel a lot less scary to a group of deserving students. If just 100 Fools were to pledge $5 each through this blog post, we can send a powerful message to non-profits everywhere that charitable giving did not perish with the boom times of yesteryear.
  • For less than the cost of one share of Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV  ) , your $10 pledge will get our holiday spirit soaring.
  • If the rally in tech made your portfolio less of a wreck, then you could join the dozens of Fools who've agreed to give $20 toward the noble work of the Thurgood Marshall Academy -- about the value of one share of Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) or Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) ($20).

Generosity comes in many forms, whether through large corporate foundations run by companies like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) , or from grass-roots-style individual giving. I know that Fools all around the world are active participants in their respective communities ... and that everyone finds their own unique ways to give. In any case, I know that each of you has one moment to spare to post a comment to this blog post in a show of support for this exciting Foolanthropy initiative. If you are not yet a CAPS member, then there has never been a better reason to join. CAPS is free, and with each comment generating a dime for a great cause, it's better than free.

So please, stop by this blog post and tell us what you think. Whether you are able to make a pledge to donate when we reach 2,000 comments, or would like to chip in a dime with your own two cents about the financial topic of your choosing, you will be a welcome sight among our 1,000 points of light.

Fool contributor Christopher Barker would like to thank every Fool that has participated in this spontaneous blog-driven effort within the broader Foolanthropy campaign. From tireless commenters to generous pledgers, the givers are too many to name. Fools can donate directly to the school here, and are encouraged to indicate the amount of their donation in a comment to the blog post.

Christopher can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He tweets. He owns no shares in the companies mentioned. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Intel and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Foolanthropy 2010

“With an innovative, deserving partner in Thurgood, we’re focusing our efforts where Fools can make a real difference,” says Motley Fool Co-founder and CEO Tom Gardner. This holiday season, help The Motley Fool give disadvantaged students a superior education.

To learn more about our adopted school, or to make a donation, click here.

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