And one of the nicest things about using Twitter is feeling the sense of community and charity that exists amongst the other food enthusiasts: bloggers, journalists, small business owners, restaurants and PR people. So many big-hearted people who have donated their time and the fruits of their labour to help other people over the last few months (and more, I'm sure). The world is a better place because of these people.
A few weeks ago I attended the amazing Blaggers' Banquet organised by Niamh, Kavey, Sig and many, many others. Having organised and managed events in a former life I was impressed when the first meeting for this event was just 2 1/2 weeks ahead of the actual date. There were so many people at that first meeting all ready to volunteer that we realised not everyone would actually be able to help on the night, or we wouldn't be able to fit the punters! I was convinced the night would sell out and as well as volunteering to help I bought the first pair of tickets, thinking I was absolutely going to make sure I was there, somehow, and if I was needed to help I'd sell or give the tickets to someone else. As it happened I couldn't find anyone free on the evening and we already had one server for every six people, plus an abundance of other helpers so I was privileged to be able to dine at the Banquet. It was inspiring how everyone pulled together to make an incredible evening that raised thousands of pounds for Action Against Hunger on the night and through the ebay auction that is still going on here.
It was a wonderful evening held at Hawksmoor London who kindly donated the space. You can read more about it on @Tehbus's blog and Fiona Beckett's blog and Wahaca's blog. The food was incredible, the company interesting and entertaining and @TimHayward's auctioneering skills were superb.
Since then, two weeks ago I was alerted to Menu for Hope, another food blogger organised mission to raise money to help relieve world hunger via World Food Program, headed by David Lebovitz in Paris and Chez Pim in San Francisco. Menu for Hope is now in its fourth year and both this and Blaggers' Banquet take a huge amount of totally voluntary time from wonderful people and so I wanted to give something more special than just a pair of tickets for a Chocolate Ecstasy Tour. At the Blaggers' Banquet Craig Linton won a private Chelsea chocolate tour and you have the chance to do the same via Menu for Hope. It's valid until the end of September 2010 and I will be the guide for you and three friends. All the money raised goes to World Food Program. There are tons of other amazing prizes and they have already raised more than $12,000! Dig deep, people.
More exciting for me on a personal level, I had a wonderful meeting last week with Sense, a charity that supports Deaf & Blind people. Not long after I first arrived in the UK I was accosted by one of the charity people on the street. In these early days in London I didn't realise the done thing was to smile and walk past quickly. When I heard what the charity was for it touched a nerve and despite the fact that I didn;t have a job yet I decided to sign up to give £6 a month. I read Helen Keller's book when I was really small and, for me, it was incredibly inspirational. A tale that can't help but make you overwhelmingly grateful for everything you have. Her most-repeated quote is one that drives most of my decisions: "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
I digress. When Celia from Sense contacted me, instead of just asking for a donation as so many charities do, she proposed we collaborate to raise money and awareness. So much more powerful. I am so excited from our meeting. We brainstormed a plan for a blindfolded chocolate tasting in May 2010. I'll be donating my time and I hope some chocolatiers will donate chocolates for the event and everything we raise from selling tickets and auctioning chocolates will go towards support for deaf and blind people in the UK. What a great way to raise money and also increase empathy. Watch this space!
I'll leave you with two other quotes from Helen Keller I found that I think are pretty poignant and relevant:
"It is hard to interest those who have everything in those who have nothing."
and one, more hopeful, that epitomises everything all of the wonderful blogger and Twitter community have been doing:
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
In case I don't get a chance to update this again in the next few days: Merry Christmas, everyone. xx