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86 the Fruitcake: Businesses and Individuals Give to Charity Instead


-- One Charity Tries Byte-Size Holiday Donations --

Seattle, Washington October 27, 2005, With the after-effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita still wreaking havoc in many American’s lives, and images of the Pakistan earthquake in the nightly news, individuals and businesses both public and private are choosing charitable gift-giving this season.

Community Voice Mail, a grassroots charity that provides phone numbers and voice mail to the homeless and hurricane victims in 37 cities and 19 states, has created a fun and novel way for individuals and businesses to participate in charitable giving for the holidays.

“We hope this holiday that instead of going on a spending spree, shoppers will go on a giving spree,” says Patricia Bonnell, Community Voice Mail’s development director.

Individuals can send holiday Ecards to friends and family for only $7 apiece. This electronic “stocking stuffer” gift supplies one hurricane victim or homeless person with voice mail for one month – enabling them to connect to hope and loved ones at a time they need it most.

Businesses can upload their email list and send clients an Ecard holiday acknowledgement OR choose an engraved insert to send alone or place inside their corporate Christmas cards. has details.

The technology that makes the Ecard program possible is being donated by the Rubenstein Technology Group.

Community Voice Mail recently expanded its capacity to help when The Cisco Foundation provided them technology to serve 120,000 hurricane Katrina evacuees with voicemail services. Now they need to ramp up support services to meet demand.

Charities like Community Voice Mail may indeed be on the receiving end of a new trend in responsible giving. According to a 2004 survey of businesses by The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 70% of participants contributed cash to “support the well-being of communities.”

The Giving USA Foundation’s yearly report for 2004 shows individual giving increased over 4% to 187.92 billion, and charitable giving by business entities reached 12 billion, a 7.3% increase.

Says Bill Strathmann, CEO of Network for Good: “Giving to a worthy cause at the holidays makes everyone feel good, the person making the donation, the person or company honored with the donation and the person helped by the donation. That’s a win-win-win scenario.”


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