Kaley Hart, a veterinary assistant at Bush Animal Clinic on Dawson Road in Albany, has started a new online effort to help Albany area charity and nonprofit organizations. A participant in the Selfie Challenge is asked to post a selfie on his or her social media page, make a $10 donation to any local charity or do volunteer work, and then challenge others in his or her social media circle to do the same. (Staff photo: Jim Hendricks)
ALBANY — An Albany woman has started a new online campaign that she hopes will be just as contagious with social media users — especially Albany area ones — as the ALSA’s ice bucket challenge.
Kaley Hart, a veterinary assistant at Bush Animal Clinic on Dawson Road, said she started her Charity Selfie challenge on her Facebook page Monday. The early hours of the campaign have been encouraging, she said in an interview Tuesday.
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“So far I’ve had a lot of shares, comments, likes, and people are tagging their friends and hoping that they make a difference as well,” she said.
Hart said the idea for the Charity Selfie challenge was “inspired” by the success of the ALSA fundraiser, which on Tuesday had raised $88.5 million since July 29, dwarfing the $2.6 million the organization raised July 29-Aug.26, 2013. The campaign also has added 1.9 million new donors to ALSA in that time.
“I thought, let’s do this in our own town and see how much money we can get in our home town,” she said.
The ice bucket challenge, which has been going strong since late July and now has spread to Europe and Asia, combines a staple of social media — a prank (in the ALSA challenge, a self-inflicted one) — with raising money for the ALS Association to combat always-fatal amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. A person challenges another person on social media to write ALSA a check for $100 or to send a smaller amount — if the challenged individual is willing to have a bucket of icy water dumped on his or her head.
Hart’s effort has a lower suggested donation level — $10 — and capitalizes on another popular pastime on social media — the taking and posting of the ubiquitous “selfie” photo. Instead of a national organization like the ALS Association, her focus is on Albany area charities and organizations.
What she’s hoping to accomplish, Hart said, is simply “lifting the community up.”
“Basically, we’re going to do a selfie donation,” she said Tuesday. “You would take a selfie, choose which charity or organization you want to donate — or volunteer time — (to), and then tag a friend so we can start a chain reaction of good things for the community.’
The idea is to build awareness about various charities and local-level organizations that are working to improve the community.
“We’re kind of a self-centered … world these days, so we … want to take a minute to put yourself into other people’s shoes and help them out,” Hart said. “And again, it’s for the local community.”
And it’s a beneficial use of some of the time spent on the Internet and various social media. “We’re kind of quick to … buy things — music, magazines — and we don’t take time to think about what’s going on in our own city,” she said.
How the message is forwarded — and how many contacts it is forwarded to — depends on the participant, she said.
“I just tagged everybody on my friends list, even people I don’t communicate with,” she said. “Just one person can make a difference.”
Hart’s own donation went to Albany’s Liberty House, which for 23 years has been a nonprofit agency in Dougherty County that provides comprehensive services for domestic violence victims, and their children, families and friends. But she said participants are free to choose any charity they like, or any organization they would like to volunteer time to help.
“Anything,” she said. “Anything in the community to help out. … Anybody who has any questions (about) how to volunteer and which charity they can donate to, feel free to personal message me (on Facebook) and I will do all the ‘dirty work’ for you, and I will find the answer and I’ll email you back.”