So here’s something awesome:
Doesn’t that guy look happy? As you can probably guess, he is particularly excited about that novelty-sized check he’s holding. You’d be happy to hear that the check is the sum result of a collaborative effort of student groups at St Johns River State College to raise money to support his local nonprofit, which notably help students in Haiti get a suitable education. Cool stuff, right? Doing good things for people is pretty cool in my book anyway, and I love when student groups can work together for something positive.
The “hug-ee” in that picture is the leader of the Secular Student Alliance at Saint Johns River State College, a group who had their first ever meeting barely two months ago. They have raised 200 dollars for the charity since the time of their formation through the execution of a “Stone-an-Atheist” event, and from selling apple pies for Sagan Day (awesome). Those efforts ultimately put them in second place of all of the student groups on campus in total funds raised.
There’s a lot of reasons I really like this situation. Not only did a new SSA group at a small college wind up running a successful charity fundraiser campaign within months of their formation, but they proved to be one of the most successful fundraising groups on their whole campus. They’ve contributed to an organization that works towards positive change, exposed their group to the campus in a positive light, and apparently had quite a bit of fun along the way.
The last thing that makes me happy about this scenario is the fact that there was no controversy in accepting funds raised by an atheist organization. Despite the charity being religious, there wasn’t any hesitation to accept a donation of heathenous funds (the charity fits into the category of a”non-proselytizing, progressive religious charity” from what I understand. More focused on school supplies than shipping bibles).
With all of that business with the American Cancer Society / Relay for Life last year, it is nice to see accepting smiles without reservation or hesitation towards atheist charity. The fantastic efforts that SSA groups made in cooperation with Foundation Beyond Belief and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society immediately come to mind as well (specific shout-out to the group at Presbyterian College, who broke $3,200 in donations on their own). The fact that the LLS was so enthusiastic about working with the nonreligious was a good sign, and some great work was done through the cooperation.
In my opinion, this is how the shift happens. If we want to get to a point where atheist/nonreligious money isn’t controversial money, we have to keep chipping at the misconceptions and negative associations by staying active and doing good where we can. The SSA at Saint Johns River College is certainly doing their part.