While some teens might use the Internet to catch up with their friends, Nick Anderson and Ana Slavin took a look at social networking Web sites and realized they were teeming with potenital young donors for a charitable cause.
The Massachusetts teens decided to raise funds for the plight in Darfur and challenged other teens across the country to pitch in through Facebook and MySpace.
"I think our generation has a general willingness to be activists and to go out and do good things," Slavin said. "But we, as teenagers, have always been kind of overlooked, and to be given this kind of empowerment the students and teenagers have really just taken off with it."
Slavin and Anderson have become so notable they were invited to Capitol Hill this week to speak out on the crisis.
During the hearing, Slavin emphasized the need for teenagers to get involved with these types of causes.
"Our generation knows it will inherit a world with staggering problems. We simply can't wait for others to change the world," Slavin said. "We must start now."
"In the United States, we are quite comfortable, a blessing in striking contrast to what is occurring in the Darfur region of the Sudan," Anderson added.
Tapping Into the Web
When they launched Dollars for Darfur, Slavin and Anderson set a goal to raise $200,000 during this past school year. By April they'd beat that number and have now raised $310,000 in contributions.
Anderson knew if he wanted to reach teens, he would have to go online.
"It's a challenge that tries to harness the voice of teenagers around the country on the issue of the genocide in Darfur and get them involved by using social networks Facebook and MySpace," Anderson said.
"We started out very simply by inviting our friends to join our Facebook and MySpace pages," Slavin said.
Then through Web word of mouth they galvanized 2,500 high schools to get involved.
"We received everything from loose change to hundreds of dollars from students," Slavin said.
That loose change added up, and now half of the $300,000 will be used to fund advocacy efforts to end the genocide in Darfur. The remaining $150,000 will go directly to humanitarian aid for Darfuri refugees, a cause Anderson feels is in grave need of attention.
"I think it is absolutely unbelievable, especially after the horrors of World War II, and we said 'never again' to not step forward and put an end to such an atrocity sooner," he said.
Anderson said it's his "moral obligation" to help those in need and not allow genocide to exist, "because human life is valuable -- just as valuable as any American life."
For more information contact: www.savedarfur.org