December 1st is World AIDS Day and the last three years I have written a post on this day. It always to me a day when I can look at the glass and see it half full, but also, sadly, half empty. For the past three years, my company and I have worked for Product (RED), a unique concept started by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise money to fight AIDS in Africa working with The Global Fund.
Just as when you work on an airline, you learn the tricks of the skies, or when you work on an Italian restaurant chain, you discover that Americans really really like Chicken Parmesan, my working on (RED) has, every day, given me insight into not only the ongoing fight to help save lives in Africa.
Like every World AIDS Day, well, actually like every day in Africa, over 4,000 people will die of AIDS. Saving lives is as simple as buying pills that cost less than a dollar and then getting them into the hands of those suffering from AIDS (in and of itself no small feat).
First of all, despite my affiliation and you will soon learn, my affinity for (RED) -- today is World AIDS Day, so no matter how you choose to, please do something today for AIDS. There are still so many suffering here, in Europe and around the world, so please do something to help.
I sit here writing this, just as the clocks in Europe are turning to tomorrow, and watching the news, I am worried that the day when we should be turning our attention to this horrible disease that has literally claimed the lives of millions, I am worried that tomorrow instead we will be obsessed with a couple crashing a White House dinner (they should be in jail) or Tiger Woods' marriage (they should be left alone.)
It is natural and I think expected that it is hard for everyone to always focus on something like AIDS, and especially AIDS in Africa. It is an overwhelming issue and one that seems so distant. However, those four thousand people who will die tomorrow, each and every one of them is someone's mother, father, brother, sister or spouse.
And yes, there is something you can do.
(RED) is a very simple, very powerful and sometimes misunderstood concept. When you buy a (RED) product, from a cup of coffee at Starbucks to the new Nike sneaker laces which were announced yesterday in London, a portion of the proceeds from the sales goes directly to The Global Fund -- 100% of that money goes to Africa. 100%. (And in the case of the Nike laces, it's 100% of the profits.)
If you want an iPod, why would you not get a (RED) ipod? If you want a new baby stroller, why not a (RED) Bugaboo one? If you want shoelaces, go with the new (RED) ones from Nike. Other partners include Dell, Armani, Starbucks, and many more.
Today on World AIDS Day, you can do a few more things to help turn yourself (RED) and let the world see you get it. You can go (RED) on Facebook and you can help us make Twitter (RED) as well.
It might not seem like much, buying an iPod, or a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but collectively, we have done an amazing thing. Together, each and every one of those (RED) purchases has added up to over $135 million going directly to The Global Fund and directly to Africa. That's something we can all be proud of, and something this holiday season I would encourage everyone to help add a little bit to that total. (And, in fact, many (RED) partners are raising their donations today, so you might as well get the shopping started early.)
Follow James Boyce on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jamesboyce