TweetsgivingRVA: Gratitude Southern Style

What started as a purely online effort to provide aid is branching out as Twitter folks around the country join forces “in real life” to help children in Africa… and to show a little gratitude themselves.

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time to gather with loved ones (by biology or choice), watch football games or parades (though the best days include both, in my opinion), and eat until you pop (even though there’s always room for pumpkin pie, no matter HOW full you are). In fact, it’s my favorite day of the year. But a big part of Thanksgiving is just that: giving thanks.

Let’s face it. Whether we attribute it to luck, blessings, karma, or good old fashioned hard work, most of us have a lot of good things in our lives and much to be thankful for… and maybe even a tiny bit extra we could give back. Enter: TweetsGiving.

Look, no one loves Twitter more than I do. Believe it or not, there is more to it than poop jokes, celebrity narcissism, political debate, and hearing about what complete strangers are eating. Sometimes, Twitter can be used for good.

Last year, an organization called Epic Change (a US nonprofit dedicated to helping grassroots changemakers tell their stories to a wider audience) created TweetsGiving, a 48-hour celebration of gratitude. Launched just two days before Thanksgiving, it quickly became the #1 trending topic on Twitter as thousands of users tweeted about what they were most thankful for.

But it didn’t stop there; many of the Twitterers also made donations, helping Epic Change raise over $10,000. Epic Change then used the funds to build a classroom in a school founded by Tanzanian Epic Change fellow “Mama Lucy” Kamptoni. That school (located near Kamptoni’s home and originally funded by her personal income and profits from selling chickens) now serves over 300 children. The walls of the new classroom are covered with the Twitter names of the donors whose generosity helped build it. The pictures I saw of the that room brought tears. You can see them here.

This year, the TweetsGiving celebration is being taken offline and straight to the people… in party form! Cities all over the world are hosting shindigs to raise money that will hopefully bring much needed dormitories and orphanages, a library, cafeteria space, and additional classrooms to that school in Tanzania.

Here in Richmond, we are lucky enough to have our soiree arranged by Kira Siddall, one of the brilliant minds behind Social Media Club’s Richmond chapter, and Patience Salgado, one of PBS’s SuperSisters bloggers, a contributor to RVANews, and the force that is

Siddall got involved with TweetsGiving last year through her personal connection to Epic Change. She met Epic Change founder Stacy Monk during a stint working in Tanzania in 2008. When she got asked to help with TweetsGiving in Richmond, she thought the effort was a good fit for the River City.

“Richmond is a very generous city and one where people love to have a good time,” said Siddall.

Meanwhile, Salgado had a connection to Epic Change through her sister who is friends with Monk. She jumped at the chance to help when the organization turned its attention towards Richmond.

“I loved the idea of how something so simple like expressing our gratitude could produce something so powerful and connect us all in the process,” said Salgado. “We have such a strong social media community and presence in our fine city. TweetsGiving is a great event to join our power with some good. In the end I think we all gain so much this kind of collective expression of gratitude and connection.”

TweetsGivingRVA takes places Tuesday, November 24th from 8pm to midnight at Plaza Bowl (523 East Southside Plaza) and, according to Siddall, is sure to be a night of “absurd fun.” In addition to duckpin bowling and karaoke, attendees can also stop by the Gratitude Station (to be run by Salgado) where they can talk with the TwitterKids in Tanzania, hop in the gratitude photo booth, or make a gratitude fortune cookie to take home with them.

Admission cost depends on how much you want to get out of the evening and how much you’d like to contribute:

  • Admission: $10
    Admission to the event
    2 drink tickets
    Light appetizers
  • Bowling Admission: $20
    Bowling Pass
    Admission to the event
    2 drink tickets
    Light appetizers
  • Top Turkey Admission: $100
    Recognition on
    Bowling Pass (unlimited bowling)
    Admission to the event
    2 drink tickets
    Light appetizers
  • Buy a Lane: $500 (email about this option)
    Acknowledgement on
    Admission for 6
    Buy out a Lane for the night and decorate the lane however you like
    Unlimited bowling on your lane
    VIP bracelets for your guests that will let you cut the line to the bar

Personally, I’m excited to hang out with my Twitterfriends, while sharing what we have, bowling, and singing off-key for a good cause. If you’re lucky, there might be a TCG rendition of New Kids On The Block in your future. Join us!

Tickets to TweetsGiving Richmond are currently on sale and can be purchased online here. Attendees are encouraged to bring cash, preferably in small bills, due to high number of raffle prizes available. And be sure to follow (and use) #tweetsgiving leading up to and during the event.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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