A file photo of participants taking part in the Walk For Sight & Sound charity event at the Penang Municipal Park.
QUITE a few charity events are held in the state each year for various causes. Walking, running, cycling, dancing, Zumba, exhibitions, plays or food fairs — you name it, Penang has it.
When covering such events, I would concentrate on the main objectives — creating awareness and raising funds.
In the Walk For Sight & Sound charity event I covered recently, the participants walked in a group with some blindfolded.
They then walked for 3.8km from Penang Municipal Park to Jalan Kebun Bunga, and back.
Another event was the International Meatless Day Charity Carnival 2015 which was filled with mouth-watering vegetarian food and snacks.
I was told the proceeds from this carnival would go to the Sadhu Vaswani Welfare Fund and FoodBANK4U.
At almost all these events, the organisers will successfully raise the targeted amount and sometimes more.
What of the other objective? Did the organisers manage to create awareness on the particular issue they wanted to highlight through the event?
I think not.
I remember covering a food fair that was held to raise funds for Thalassaemia patients. People attending the event did not know about the illness.
“I came to buy food and show my support,” a visitor said. “I may not know about the illness but I know that the association needs money and I am here to help.”
Even the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which overwhelmed social media a year ago, was known more for the excitement it caused than what the illness was about.
Asked why they went to charity events, many of those I interviewed said “for fun”. I get the impression they went there for the T-shirts, goodie bags or lucky draw prizes.
Only about 10% to 20% of the participants know the objectives of the event because they may have a friend or relative suffering from the illness.
It is commendable that people want to give back to the community and take part in charity events.
Before enjoying themselves at the event, they should read up on the details of the charity.
At least ask someone who knows about the cause.
Better still, share the information with others who attend the event.
This way, you are playing your part for charity as well as lear-ning something new.
It will be personally satisfying to know why you took part in an event and that your contribution will go towards helping others.
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