Does a Volcano Attract a Crowd of Philanthropists?

Now here’s a nation we associate with cold nights, hot water pools, passing icebergs and of course volcanos. When a strong seismic crisis began on the Reykjanes peninsula near Fagradalsfjall mountain in February, involving several magnitude 5+ shivers and thousands of smaller shakes, attention quickly drew visitors. Then, boom, on March 19 an eruption that shows little sign of stopping anytime soon. A growing cone fills with spectacularly boiling (degassing) lava that flows away to form thin flows that overlap on an expanding lava field that is filling the Geldingadalur valley. So naturally, we wonder, if it keeps going…are there charities which are standing by to help? And help do what? Do Iceland’s fundraisers dare leverage a lava flow?

Three quick semi-random facts about charitable activity in Iceland
• The Huma Charity Challenge invites people to trek the famous Laugavegur Trail or hike through Skaftafell National Park, soak in the stunning geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon or experience the magic of Iceland in winter, exploring hot springs, geysers and frozen landscapes on snowshoe hikes and super-Jeep excursions—all of which can be arranged as fundraisers. Their charity challenge experts create customized itineraries for groups or individuals can sign on for upcoming challenges. Volcano run anyone?
• In 2011, major charities, from the UK in particular, lost tens of millions in assets when funds were frozen in collapsed Icelandic banks. The Icelandic government held long talks with charity group leaders amid an estimate that British organizations had as much as £120m tied up with Iceland’s trio of troubled lenders. Some lucked out; others lost a fortune.
• Between 1,500 and 2,000 families in Iceland accept food donations every month and the need is growing, according to Vilborg Oddsdóttir, a social worker at Icelandic Church Aid (Hjálparstarf kirkjunnar). She estimates that 4,000 to 5,000 families accept donations at least once a year. Did you picture that?

Meanwhile here at home…
Canada Iceland Foundation has been in around for over 50 years. Created as a charitable body by a group of community leaders and organizations in the Icelandic Canadian Community in the late 1940s, it exists to fulfill the need for a funding charity to support non-profit cultural and scholarship activities of their community. In 1985, the unincorporated Foundation was turned into a charitable corporation. Many families have memorialized family members with the establishment of scholarship funds in their names. The foundation has been fortunate as well to be remembered in the wills of members of the Icelandic Canadian community.

Now pack those lava-resistant hiking boots and start raising money as you outrace the growing red-hot flows that are once again changing the landscape of Iceland.

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