THE BLOG
02/16/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Hunger Groups Wield Tech Tools In Obama Inaugural Service Day Push

Borrowing a page from President-elect Obama's reliance on high-tech tools to win the White House, hunger groups are launching their own tech-heavy drives to feed America's hungry.

It's all in response to Obama's call for a national day of service to take place on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 19, one day before the new president is sworn into office. In fact the Obama team is relying on e-mail as one way to get the word out about service opportunities in communities nationwide.

In an effort to broaden their campaigns' reach beyond the ranks of traditional soup kitchen volunteers, hunger groups are rolling out texting, social networking and other Web 2.0 tools to draw in the maximum number of contributors and volunteers.

Among the targets are tech-savvy 20- and 20-somethings.

"Young people tend to be texters," says Chuck Scofield, Chief Development Officer for Share Our Strength, the national feeding organization. The hunger group launched a texting donation effort January 12 in partnership with AT&T, the mobile phone carrier . Any cell phone user who donates $5.00 by texting "SHARE" to 20222 will be matched by AT&T up to $100,000.

"It's a simple way to make a contribution," explains Scofield, adding that while the effort is not exclusively aimed at young people, "we hope to get those folks in the fold." The campaign will run through March 1.

Minnesota hunger group Second Harvest Heartland is using the Web to recruit 10,000 volunteers for the day of service. To draw in time-pressed individuals, the organization created a virtual volunteer arrangement. Through Jan. 19, the group is asking 10,000 individuals to visit www.10000strong.org. Simply by entering the site, they will be counted among the 10,000 voices being sought.

"In just one minute's time, from the comfort of their home or office, they can complete an act of service by doing what the web site suggests -forward, talk or do," said the group's spokesperson in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, Yelp, the social networking site offering reviews of neighborhood businesses, is hosting an inauguration night celebration with the suggested $10 donation going to St. John's Bread & Life, a New York City hunger relief group.

The announcement, posted on Yelp's site, drew such a huge response that the event--expected to draw as many as 2,500 revelers for Obama-themed drinks, manicures and other offerings--is now fully subscribed, according to Chantelle Karl, a Yelp spokesperson.