How should I spend $200 to change the world?

9 11 2010

Before all two of you start harassing me about where I suddenly got $200 from, I shall explain.  Last month, there was a special day when students, teachers, and random people who were most likely drawn in by the abundance of orange balloons in the front of the building, all gathered to celebrate Langara’s 40th birthday.  There were contests, games, and booths everywhere on campus and I entered a whole bunch of contests, not thinking I would ever win anything because of course, well, I don’t.

About a week or so later, I get an email from someone at Langara who tells me I’ve won a $200 gift certificate to Oakridge mall and asks when I want to come pick it up.  Long story short, I now have $200 to spend and I’m not sure what to buy.

My first instinct was, as most people’s, what to buy for myself or for friends/family.  After all, Christmas is coming up and as a student, I don’t have that much to spend anyway, so this would be a good chance.  But it didn’t seem right — maybe it was the fact that I had been reading Gulliver’s Travels and was filled with hopelessness about the entire human race (likely) but I wanted to do something more.

I established that I wanted to do something for the homeless by buying them a whole bunch of blankets at Zellers or the Bay and giving them out to people on the street but I realized that it wasn’t enough.  Sure, it would be keeping them warm during the winter, but that, to me, isn’t the point.

I don’t want to make their lives more comfortable, only to have them face the same hardship next year.  Instead of trying to fix the problem, I want to eliminate it.  I want to stop poverty at the root, rather than provide a temporary solution.

This seems ambitious, even to me, and it’s not like I have $200 to spend on buying people a new life.  I also thought of, just today, helping out gay teens who may be thinking about taking their lives, what with all the publicity surrounding their suicides these past couple months.  But I also have no idea how to do that.  I realize i could very well start a campaign of some sort to make people aware — something like buying pink shirts and waving pamphlets in people’s faces on the street and then getting everyone to wear a pink shirt, much like Anti-bullying day — and it’s not that I don’t think these campaigns are effective, but that they do not seem effective enough.  I want to do more.  I want change now.  That is a lot to ask for, and I know that, but I want to do more than buy a whole truckload of pink shirts or buttons or something to combat a much bigger problem.

If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be more than open to hear them.  Keep in mind that the gift certificate is only valid at Oakridge (aka. Rich People’s Mall) so I am limited in the stores and consequently, what to buy.

PS.  I also secretly want publicity but I have come to realize (and accept… sort of) that anything surrounding me is never really publicized.  That being said, it would be nice though!