I love the holidays. For me, it's a time filled with joy. A time filled with good food and warm laughter, precious moments shared with family and friends, gifts shared and music played. Perhaps more than any other time of the year, though, it's also a time filled with thoughtful reflection -- and action.
As Chief Executive of the international nonprofit WaterAid America, it comes as no surprise that one of the things that I think about most is how to get people excited about making extreme poverty a thing of the past with the help of clean water and safe toilets.
When it comes to the water and sanitation crisis, we know what the problem is: 768 million people have no choice but to drink dirty, disease-ridden water day after day. Worse yet, an astounding one in three people -- 35 percent of the world's population -- have no place to go when nature calls.
The good news is that this is a problem we can solve -- today. We aren't waiting on any major scientific or medical breakthroughs; we know that the solution lies in making clean water, toilets and hygiene education readily available to everyone, everywhere. Frankly, if that's not something to get excited about, I don't know what is.
This December 3, millions of Americans will be taking part in #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving that is transforming the way that people think about, talk about and participate in changing the world around us. It's a day when all of us can play a role in making the world a better place, including by making sure that people living in the world's poorest communities have clean water to drink and a safe, sanitary place to go to the bathroom.
As a proud partner of #GivingTuesday this December 3, WaterAid has a whole slew of things happening, all of which are ripe with opportunities for you to make a difference. Here are seven ways to take action around clean water on #GivingTuesday:
1. Rally with WaterAid to #doubleit
This #GivingTuesday, a long-time WaterAid supporter has offered to match every penny we raise between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, December 3. Make your year-end gift go twice as far by donating to WaterAid's life-changing programs on December 3, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same. Learn more about our $50,000 challenge here.
2. Tell Congress you care about the Water for the World Act
Right now, there's a key piece of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that has the power to ensure that the world's most marginalized communities remain front and center in U.S. efforts to bolster access to water, toilets and the hygiene education that saves and improves lives. It's called the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2013 and it's a critical next step for advancing US leadership on the global water and sanitation crises. Ask your Member of Congress to support the Water for the World Act today.
3. Have a little shopping fun
Shop for a cause! Kicking off on December 3, rock and roll icon Ringo Starr is auctioning off 25 autographed Timberland jackets on eBay, with all proceeds going to WaterAid.
Not a rock and roll fan? Try a holiday gift card from renowned clothing retailer H&M, which supports WaterAid's work to help poor communities in Bangladesh gain access to life's most basic needs: clean water, toilets and good hygiene.
4. Join the #water4girls Twitter chat
Ever wonder why clean water and toilets are especially key to empowering women and girls, and helping them lead healthy, prosperous lives? Join Girls Globe and WaterAid for a lively #GivingTuesday Twitter chat on Tuesday, December 3 from 1 - 2pm EST using #water4girls.
5. Eat (and drink) for clean water
If you're in New York, you won't want to miss bringing the family to American Flatbread Tribeca Hearth for some mouth-watering flatbread pizzas from 5-10pm on #GivingTuesday, or joining us at the Blue Water Grill in Union Square from 7-9pm to raise your glass to clean water and sanitation for all.
6. Help spread the word
Your voice matters! Have a peek at the WaterAid #GivingTuesday toolkit that we've prepared, complete with suggested tweets and Facebook posts. Inclined to write a blog? We'd love to hear your stories about giving: What is the most powerful gift you've ever received? What have your children taught you about giving? Why do you choose to give?
7. Post an #UNselfie or two
#UNselfies are pictures that people take of themselves doing good things, supporting good causes, and showing compassion in action. WaterAid supporters have been getting in on the action, so grab your camera and tweet your #UNselfie pictures (and those of your kids!) to @WaterAidAmerica
Photo credit: WaterAid / Anna Kari