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Mob Charity site matches donors, causes

By Kenny Bruns

Senior Caleb Levell launched a month ago based on the concept of mob rule.

The site pins different charities against each other to be voted for most worthy of receiving a donation.

The first donation of $105 was made three weeks ago to the Bear Hugs Children Foundation, based in Florida. Bear Hugs provides medical care for children worldwide and supports scientific research of pediatric illnesses.

On Nov. 6, the WonderLab Science Museum, a children’s science museum in downtown Bloomington, won the second round of mob voting.

The Charity Mob Web site is the final project of Levell’s Individualized Major Program curriculum.

Levell is set to graduate with a major in “Social Media Ecology” in addition to telecommunications.

“We all have the things we are passionate about,” Levell said. “What Charity Mob does is bring people together, connect them and let them share what they are passionate about. It informs other people what’s going on in the community and the world around them.”

All causes big or small are accepted onto the site to be voted on. Their fate is ultimately decided by the “mob.”

National causes such as The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research are up against local ones like WonderLab.

“Charity Mob raises awareness of the nonprofit community,” said Jeanne Gunning, the volunteer director for WonderLab. “It’s a way for different demographics to get involved.”
Assistant Professor of telecommunications Andrew Weaver, Levell’s adviser on the project, has high hopes for the Web site.

“The idea of collective action isn’t new,” Weaver said. “But to be able to use new technology to get more people involved is a major focus in the project. The mob collectively can do a lot more than the individual.”

Awareness for Charity Mob is being spread through United Way’s Give 5 campaign, which encourages students to visit the Web site and donate up to $5 to the pool through a Facebook group and series of e-mail chain letters.

For Levell, the message is simple.

“The small things we do can make a big impact,” Levell said. “Using small change we can make a big difference.”

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