Contributions from 733 donors have given a strong sendoff to the AVMA/Heifer International tsunami relief matching partnership—momentum needed for the Association to persevere and reach its enterprising, million-dollar goal. "But we still have a long way to go and need everyone's help," stated Cynthia Hester, Heifer's corporate relations director.
Numerous contributions of a modest size, coupled with some larger donations, pushed the end-of-March grand total from supporters and the AVMA to a heartening $274,120, which includes the $100,000 the AVMA initially provided to Heifer. The Association will send the first matching funds check to cover gifts over the $100,000 to Heifer just before the AVMA annual convention in July.
The AVMA is partnering with Heifer International to help restore the agricultural infrastructure within regions affected by the South Asian tsunami and to assist the victims in rebuilding their lives. The Association pledged $500,000 in the form of a challenge grant to encourage the veterinary profession, industry partners, and the public to contribute to this effort. The AVMA will match donations until the grand total reaches $1 million.
The rebuilding partnership has taken on even greater dimensions following a second blow dealt to many families victimized by the tsunami. On March 28, a great earthquake of magnitude 8.7 hit northern Sumatra, killing more than 1,300 and injuring hundreds. Dr. Terry S. Wollen, director of animal well-being and a staff veterinarian with Heifer, said, "We are beginning to work in the earthquake-affected areas, so the AVMA program will benefit families affected by both the tsunami and the quake."
Heifer has committed $2 million for programs to provide training, livestock, and related help to tsunami victims on Sumatra and elsewhere in the region. They will use the AVMA partnership funds to begin work along the west coast of Sumatra and the island of Nias.
Many of the donations have originated from within the veterinary profession, but others—including a major contribution received in March—have been from compassionate members of the public who are uniting with the AVMA on this initiative.
"We're delighted with this generous contribution. Heifer International emphasizes that contributions of all sizes are needed," Hester said. "In the first two months of the AVMA/Heifer program, we have received individual donations varying from $10 from a child who wanted to help other children in Indonesia and $330 from a veterinary association auxiliary to $50,000 from a group of accountants and attorneys.
"Each and every gift matters, regardless of its size, and collectively, they will make a huge difference to tsunami-stricken families. It is the gift of hope for an entire community. Like a stone dropped into still water, all gifts ripple out for years to come."
Peter Appleton Jones is an example of the philanthropic results one can achieve by enlisting the support and collaboration of friends and colleagues for a worthy cause.
Appleton Jones is president of The Appleton Group Inc., a St. Petersburg, Fla., company that operates TAGLaw, an international legal network, and TIAG, an international accounting network. One of TAGLaw's members, led by John Scannapieco of Boult, Cummings, Conners, and Berry in Nashville, Tenn., suggested they raise money from member firms to help the tsunami victims and got the fund started with a $5,000 contribution. The Appleton Group matched the $5,000 and invited TAGLaw and TIAG members to participate. Donations from these business contemporaries grew the fund to $47,000, and The Appleton Group rounded it off to $50,000.
As joint trustees on the project, Scannapieco and Appleton Jones researched a range of opportunities for contributing the pooled resources. "We decided that in the case of the tsunami, there was lots of money pouring in for the major cities on the shoreline, and what was needed was some long-term help that would get directly to the people who were most affected," Appleton Jones explained. "Our concern was that the big relief agencies are rebuilding buildings and putting water supplies in—which are very important—but it may not get to the family in the village who've lost their fishing boats or the family in the village who've lost their livestock."
Heifer International was one of the organizations they approached. Appleton Jones and his wife, Anne, who is vice president of The Appleton Group, were familiar with Heifer's work. Instead of sending out Christmas cards each year, they contribute "two dozen chickens or some goats or a water buffalo" in their friends' names.
"We know that Heifer has a great program where they don't just put animals into a community but they put animals there with someone to give the family training in animal husbandry," he said. "And then they also require that (recipients) take the firstborn of the animal group that they (received) and give it to a neighbor, who then starts a similar program. It really does help the family life and the economy of the family, and the economy of the village where they're living."
Equally appealing to Appleton Jones and Scannapieco were the matching dollars from the AVMA that would double their contribution. Initially, Heifer was still working out the details of its tsunami relief work when the two trustees called. Appleton Jones said. "And then, they came back to us and said, 'yes, not only do we have a program, but the AVMA has agreed to match any funds that we get, up to a certain sum.'"
This is not the first time he has organized a relief effort. Appleton Jones set up the TAGLaw 9/11 Fund, which raised $30,000 from firms not only in New York and Washington, D.C., but also throughout Europe. "When you get major disasters like 9/11 and like the tsunami, you feel for the people there who were affected by it," he said, "and it just seems like something that we could do and should do."
To donate online, go to https://secure2.heifer.org/heiferlink/AVMA/giving.cfm, or, visit the AVMA Web site, www.avma.org, and click on "tsunami recovery" to get to this link and learn more about the areas affected and why the AVMA initiated this partnership. Donations may also be made by mail, phone, or fax. For the partnership to receive matching dollars, donors must reference the AVMA.