Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Slightly Above Frustrated/Dollar Donation Day

Today was supposed to really get the ball rolling. At least that's how I imagined it. At school several people congratulated me on making the local paper like a true celeb. I kept checking my email, expecting the donations to starting coming in, or for some more local businesses to jump on board. Instead, silence. I didn't hear a word from anyone.

Of course, I mostly blame myself. Who in their right mind would give their blog a 14-word long URL? Maybe the biggest blunder in marketing history. I tried to change it before the story ran to "stephencleans.com," but the customer service people over at godaddy.com were less than helpful and all I ended up with was a domain name that points to a place called Error 404.

Now, I'm not in a hurry to have my weekly microwave duty triggered, and frankly I'm afraid for my life when it comes to cleaning the refrigerators, but I'm even more sick of fundraising. There is something draining about asking people for money. Sometimes I feel guilty for soliciting donations from fellow students who I know are just as strapped for cash as I am.

With all this in mind, I decided that this Friday will be Dollar Donation Day. I honestly think we can reach the $2000 dollar goal with people donating nothing more than a single dollar. We just have to find a way to get 1500 people to each give one dollar. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to this approach:

Advantages: One dollar is not a lot. The guy who sells joke books on 13th could spare a dollar. There is probably a dollar in your couch cushions right now, or in that change jar on your dresser.

Disadvantages: In the two weeks or so that this fundraiser has been going, there have only been 27 contributors. Don't get me wrong, I love you all. All I'm saying is, it might be hard to mobilize 1500 people on a single day when so far we've only inspired 27.

I really can't do this by myself, so this is my challenge to you: on Friday April 3rd, give one dollar. You can contribute at the website, or you can bring a little baggy full of pennies to school, it doesn't really matter. The next step will be to mobilize friends, family, or anyone else who has a dollar to spare (even the joke book guy!). Let's see what we can do.

US Weekly, here I come

I woke up early this morning to go pick up a copy of the Register Guard. I wanted to see if the story about the fundraiser had run. I had front page hopes, but jammed-between-the-auto-trader-and-the-classifieds expectations. 

I was happy to see that the story was on the front page of the City/Region section. You can read the online digital version here. Make sure to click on the photo tab to get a good look at my disgusted mug. The article is fun and very well written. Unfortunately it's just a matter of time before the paparazzi start following me around.

I have to say, this has been a fun project so far (other than the cleaning microwaves part). I enjoy putting together the videos and writing letters to Oprah, which is something I used to do in my spare time anyways. I hope that amidst the quirkiness and novelty of this fundraiser, however, we can all keep in mind that this really is a good cause. By coming together as a community we really have the power and potential to change lives. 

For those of you looking for more information about the internship, you can check out my internship blog here. 

Thanks for all your donations. 


Monday, March 30, 2009

New Sponsor

I want to give a quick shout out to our new sponsor, Triangle Graphics. Triangle Graphics is a local company that does screen printing and all kinds of other fun stuff. They have helped me out in several projects, including my latest (and still unrevealed) fundraiser. They have always been very customer friendly and flexible with my requests. The same cannot be said for all screen printing shops in town. On top of that they deliver a quality product. 

A picture is worth a thousand words

When I was about 9 years old someone from my elementary school had their picture in the paper. I don't remember anymore what the article was about, all I remember is that I was jealous. I wanted more than anything in the world to be in the newspaper. I would do things like alphabetize my baseball cards and then ask my Mom to call the newspaper to see if they wanted to come do a story about me and my baseball cards. The newspaper never returned my Mom's calls (actually, I'm pretty sure my Mom never called).

In high school I had my picture in the paper twice, and it was not as cool as I thought it'd be. This first one was on the front page of the sports section:

That's me, trying to avoid a foul while simultaneously kicking someone in the crotch. We lost that game by 15. The other picture was not as colorful or prominent, but the picture was of me getting my shot blocked.

Today was my chance at redemption as the Register Guard came to the school to interview me about this fundraiser. A photographer came and took some pictures, but not a single one of me kicking anyone or getting my shot blocked. Check out the video:

Special thanks to my two amazing videographers, my wife Oksana, and my friend Candace. Quality work, ladies.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Monday is Clean Microwaves Day

I was planning on cleaning microwave #2 yesterday, and even putting together a neat little video that the kids these days enjoy so much. However, I've decided to postpone the cleaning until Monday. You'll understand why later. 

It looks like our next goal is refrigerator #1. On Monday I'll have some inspiring dirty refrigerator pictures for you all. Please, try to contain your excitement. 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Our First Sponsor!

I take it back. Sponsors are never a waste of time. 

A local video game company, InstantAction.com, has stepped up to the plate with a big donation. Now, InstantAction.com is no Oprah . . . they're better than Oprah. 

If you insist on playing video games during class, you might as well support the local economy while doing it. Check out Instant Action

Fundraiser Update

Wow, we flew right by 200 and are currently sitting at 324. I want to thank everyone again for chipping in, one dollar at a time. When we hit 400 I'll put together another neat little video. 

I've decided that looking for an official sponsor is not worth the time and effort. I've been turned down by American Apparel, Clorox, and Allann Bros. Coffee, and flat out ignored by everyone else I've tried to get on board. All these companies are already actively giving in their own way, and they get thousands of smaller requests that they have to turn away, no matter how worthy the cause.  

The only way to get big companies on board is to thing big. Really big. I'm thinking about starting something that I'll tentatively call the "Day Without a Latte Fund." The idea would be to encourage people to go one day a week without their latte, or treat of choice, and to put the money they would have spent into this fund. It would be set up basically as a scholarship fund for people who want to undertake valuable community service of one kind or another, but can't afford to do so. If the fund could get enough coverage (by being on Oprah, for example), I think it could really take off. I like the idea of our community as a whole making small sacrifices, like going a day without a latte, to help support the greater good. 

Of course, this is just in the early planning stages. Any thoughts or feedback would be appreciated. 

Thanks again for all your donations. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One Clean Microwave!

Thanks for all your help, everyone! Check out the video below to see how the cleaning went. 

By the way, a friend today suggested that I forget Oprah and try sending Ellen an email. So I went ahead and did it. American Apparel, meanwhile, wrote me back today and said that they're too busy charging 40 dollars for v-neck undershirts to sponsor my blog. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Day Without Donations

Today came and went without a single donation. Personally I blame Oprah's puppy

Today I shot an email over to the folks at American Apparel, asking if they'd be interested in sponsoring my fundraising efforts. I'm a big advocate for what they do, especially their Legalize LA campaign. They are big advocates for immigrant rights, and employ a lot of people from Central and South America. Let it be known that if they do in fact sign on, I will become strictly an American Apparel shopper for life. Let's make it happen!

Oprah Watch: Day III, and Other Thoughts

Its been almost three days since I emailed Oprah about this blog, and still no word.  I really think that the least Oprah could do is make this blog one of the "hot topics" over at her website. Right now the hot topics are, in order from left to right:

The Container Store
Ellen DeGeneres
Oprah's puppy
Celebrity chef recipies
Submit Talented kids videos

I imagine this fundraiser falling somewhere between Ellen and Oprah's puppy. 

Yesterday we had over 600 viewers. That's a lot. If each of them had given ten cents, we'd have one clean microwave and be well on our way to a second. But in the end this really isn't about microwaves or an internship, it's about making sure that young people in Peru are given a chance to succeed. I hate to sound like a cheesy infomercial, but giving a dollar or two could literally help change someone's life. 

Thanks again to everyone who has contributed or helped out in any way. 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Links, Thoughts, and Peeps

I want to first give major props to Craig, a fellow law student and contributor to SWCMM for doing his best to spread the word about this fundraiser. You can check out his latest efforts here. You'll have to scroll down a bit, but you'll see we get a big mention over at SI.com. (While you're at it, make sure to vote for Selma.) Way to be, Craig. 

I have officially extended sponsorship offers to three important entities: Market of Choice, Allann Brothers Coffee, and Oprah. So far I haven't heard back from any of them (to Oprah's credit, I just wrote to her like five minutes ago). 

Let's not be deterred. This fundraiser is not about big corporate sponsors, or large contributions anyways. It's about mobilizing a community and getting everyone to chip in a dollar or two when they can. 

I wanted to say thanks to the person who thought it would be funny to explode some Peeps in the microwaves. They now look worse than ever, but my spirits are stronger than before! Onward and upward!

One last thing for today, I've decided to extend the deadline to April 30th. Happy Spring Break, everyone!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wanted: Corporate Sponsor

I want to first thank everyone who has donated so far. Nine contributors and $135  in just over one day! We're just $65 from having ONE clean microwave in the student lounge. 

I've been looking for a local business or company to sponsor the Stephen Will Clean the Microwaves for Money (SWCMM) efforts. I'm looking for someone who would be willing to match our student contributions in exchange for a little free advertising and the chance to feel good about helping out. So to help spread the word I've made up some handsome full color flyers. If you'd like to take one to your favorite coffee shop, grocery store, or super-rich Uncle, let me know and I will set you up with one. 


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Photographic Evidence

Quote of the Day:

"It's too bad you can't link to the smell."---Candace Martin

I have no way of showing you the smell, so just look at these pictures and use your imagination.  Microwave #1 is gross:


But microwave #2 is a travesty:

Look at the way the food kind of oozes out onto the counter. It's disgusting. 

And that's not even the worst part! Anyone who has ever cleaned a microwave knows that the worst part is always the top on the inside. 

Now, I realize that 400 dollars is a lot, but I'm not expecting people to fork over large sums of money. If everyone at school chipped in just a couple of bucks, we'd have clean microwaves and refrigerators by the end of the month, easy. 

So spread the word, people. It's for a good cause, I promise.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

About the Fundraiser

The microwaves at school are gross. 

It's not just the microwaves, but the whole refrigerator/microwave area, really. It's one of the dirtiest areas I've ever been around, and I've been around some dirty things

Everyday I tell myself that someone really should clean the microwaves and fridges. I've grown more and more frustrated as the microwave becomes more and more encrusted with Lean Cuisine explosions. I would rather keep my food in a homeless man's shopping cart (next to his dirty laundry, even) than in the refrigerators at school. 

Well, I've finally decided to combine my desire to have this stuff cleaned up with my desperate need for money. I'm going to Peru this summer for an internship, and I really need the cash. So here's the dealio: if I can raise the following amounts of money by Monday the 3oth of March, I will do the following:

$200---Clean one microwave.

$400---Clean both microwaves.

$600---Clean both microwaves and one fridge.

$800---Clean both microwaves and both fridges. 

$1000--Clean both microwaves, both fridges, and stock microwave area with napkins and plastic ware

Here's the big one:

$2000--For TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS I will clean both microwaves, both fridges, stock the area with all that stuff, and I will continue to clean the microwaves every Saturday morning for the rest of my 2 plus years in law school. 

So make it happen people. Every dollar counts.