Mission 1: Letter Writing Campaign

A lot of the volunteer work that I do is coordinated through my church, First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, which is a church in the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination.  This year, the UCC is launching an initiative called “Mission 1,” covering the 11 day period from 11/1/11 – 11/11/11.

One of the 3 aspects of it is a letter writing campaign, augmenting Bread for the World with their 2011 Offering of Letters.  Their focus is on improving the effectiveness of US foreign aid, through accountability and transparency, streamlining redundant, overlapping aid agencies, and giving local people what they want.

For the Mission 1 campaign, we’re hoping to send 111 letters from our church.  To participate:

  1. Learn about the issue.
    1. Read a two-pager of facts about poverty and hunger (and USAID)
    2. Watch the overview of the campaign, including stories from Haiti and Liberia  (YouTube Video 7:51)
  2. Compose your thoughts.
    1. Start from a sample letter from Bread for the World (or download the Microsoft .doc version)
    2. Or, if you want to be more free-form (and effective) say it in your own words.  Be sure to include your name and address at the bottom of the letter (so your representative knows that you are in his or her district).
  3. Send the letter.
    [UPDATE:  The UCC has set up a nice page which lets you submit a single form, and figures out from your zip code which members of Congress should receive it.  So you can send all 4 (2 Senators, 1 Representative, Pres. Obama) with a single form submission.]
    1. Via the legislator’s web contact form:
    2. Via Snail Mail:
      • Representative Anna Eshoo, 205 Cannon Building, Washington, D.C. 20515
      • Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, 112 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
      • Senator Dianne Feinstein, United States Senate, 331 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
  4. Let us know you’ve sent your letter (to count toward our goal!)
    • Email givingbackbook  at gmail , or better still
    • Comment on this post, include a copy of your letter, if you like, and let us know where you sent it.
  5. Invite a friend to participate in the letter writing campaign. Share this blog post. Bring the letter writing campaign up in a conversation.

One comment

  1. Text of my letter (not that different from the basic, which was pretty good….)

    I am a member of a congregation of the United Church of Christ and I am passionate about the need to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty globally. My church is committed to serving hungry people in our community, but I also expect the U.S. government to take a lead in addressing hunger around the world in systemic ways.

    As we consider our budget priorities in an era where we need to reduce our expenditures, I hope that you will consider the disparity between the defense budget (which too often seems to be “off the table” when it comes time to consider cuts) and the budget for foreign assistance. We should strive to increase the aid that we send that helps other countries: providing emergency food assistance where needed, but also funding education, disease eradication, and poverty alleviation through programs which improve capacity (like microfinance). We should be honest that the aid that we send in the form of grants to purchase military equipment from US companies is self-centered aiding the US defense commercial sector often degrading rather than securing the safety of the “aided” state’s civilians.

    Poverty focused foreign assistance is less than 1 percent of the federal budget, so cutting it would do little to reduce the deficit and much to worsen the plight of struggling women and children in developing countries. Cuts such as those being proposed, for example, would restrict our ability to respond to severe humanitarian emergencies, such as the ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa.

    Humanitarian and poverty-focused foreign assistance is vital to global human security. It saves lives, helps prevent conflict, saves money, and lays the groundwork for economic growth. As Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has stated, helping countries develop “is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

    Please protect families and children from cuts that cost lives, and support continued U.S foreign aid reform so that the world’s most hungry people are the ones who actually benefit from our assistance.

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