Right now, South Australian independent senator Cory Bernardi must be wishing his spectacular fundraising powers could be used on his fledgling political party after he inadvertently raised nearly $200,000 overnight for a charity helping young girls in Africa get an education.
“Do It In A Dress” will hold its sixth annual charity day in October and an Adelaide primary school is one of the groups taking part, which caught the eye and ire of Bernardi, the former Liberal senator who defected within months of being re-elected last year to form his own breakaway conservative party.
Bernardi, a vocal campaigner against same-sex marriage, the Safe Schools program, Islam and halal certification, to name a few of his concerns, noticed that Craigburn Primary School was taking part in the “Do It In A Dress” fundraiser, which he saw as proof of “gender morphing”.
— Cory Bernardi (@corybernardi) September 20, 2017
And when he was criticised about the tweet, the man who has a portrait of Dame Edna Everage hanging in his house doubled down saying the event was “totally weird”.
He’s now become an global fundraising phenomenon for One Girl, the charity behind Do It In A Dress. The dress day raises around $800,000 annually, and the small school with a $900 target from gold coin donations now has supporters around the world who’ve pledged more $180,000 to their fundraising efforts. On Friday, pledges continued to pour in for Craigburn at around $5,000 an hour.
The total raised is now about $360,000 — more than double the figure pledged before the charity was accused of being part of a plot to politicise and indoctrinate school children.
That’s enough to educate 1,200 girls next year in countries where they’re 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than go to school at age 15.
Among the companies supporting the campaign is wine startup Vinomofo.
South Australia’s education department boss Rick Persse took part last year when he was running the attorney-general’s department and posted a photo yesterday in response saying he’d gladly do it it again.
— Rick Persse (@rickpersse) September 21, 2017
The Do It In A Dress team are delighted with the reaction, saying on Facebook that the Craigburn kids “are living proof that you’re never too young to make a difference!”
“When you’re out to change the world, there are guaranteed to be haters and naysayers – but we are so proud of our community for standing up for what they believe in, and taking action to make the world a better place,” they said.
“We are in awe of the wave of support, donations and love coming our way and in particular for Craigburn Primary School’s efforts. We are totally inspired by the power of positive community action to fight ignorance and hate, and ultimately this will mean we can reach many more girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda with education – which is what it’s all about!”
One Girl CEO Morgan Koegel said that the charity was now “well ahead of target” following the senator’s intervention.
“This is something I hope the Craigburn community feels really proud of, because this is going to have profound implications for girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda,” she said.
“The money already raised is more than enough to enducate more than 500 girls for a year and that will have massive ripple effects through families, communities and both countries.
“I’m happy that people are taking this as a good news story at a time when there’s so much darkness in the world.”
Koegel said traffic on the website jumped by more than 5,000% and it “was a bit of a shock to the system”, forcing them to bring in new servers as the story went global.
When Do It In A Dress began in 2012, it was a symbol of the power of education. Last year more than 2,000 people took part, doing everything from jumping out of planes to climbing to base camp at Mt Everest in a school uniform.
“The whole reason in this campaign is that a school dress means opportunity, education and empowerment young girls,” Koegel said.
And yes, it’s designed to take you out of your comfort zone.
“Even as an adult woman putting on a school dress is strange for me,” she says.
“But when 60 million girls not at school who should be, wearing the dress is an opportunity to have that conversation that you wouldn’t otherwise about what it all means.”
If you’re keen to get involved or sponsor someone, check it out here.
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