YouTube Community Gives Back: Project for Awesome

by Elsa Stoff

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For the past three years, Youtubers have congregated on December 17th to promote and raise money for various charities.  One day each year, this community turns the attention away from themselves when vloggers make videos about their preferred charity.  The event is led by Nerdfighters author John Green (Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns) and singer, scientist Hank Green.  Hank Green writes that “Sometimes the world just sucks too much,” on the Project for Awesome website (http://www.projectforawesome.com/).  The brothers work to decrease world suck by aiding and promoting charities.

Project for Awesome...an awesome project

Last year, Project For Awesome took Youtube by force—and surprise.  The largest entertainment site was practically hacked, when P4A videos took over the homepage and topped all the stats for the day.  This year, the stakes rose higher than ever.  The biggest change was that the twenty-four hour livestream was hosted by Youtube, and the result was much greater technology available to spread the cause.  The P4A Youtube account was linked right next to the Youtube symbol on every page, and the basis of the event was altered.  In prior years, the focus was to promote charities and inform people.  This year, the brothers emphasized raising money on the big day.  Also, as a bonus, John volunteered to give a penny for every comment on a P4A video, up to a million comments.

Amazing feats occurred on December 17, 2010.  Once again, P4A stormed the Youtube homepage with forty front page video features.  Three thousand videos were made, and they received 600,000 comments.  Overall, $130,000 was raised that day for the various charities vloggers promoted.  These numbers are astonishing.

A highlighted charity this year was the This Star Won’t Go Out foundation.  Earlier in 2010, a Nerdfighter named Esther got to meet John Green through the Make a Wish Foudation.  Esther was battling cancer.  She died a few months later.  Esther’s parents started This Star Won’t Go Out in her memory to help families who are struggling with the same problems they overcame.  Their goal is to give money to families with an extremely ill child.  Its secondary goal is to keep Esther, which means “star” in Persia, alive in people’s memories.  Many Youtubers promoted this brand new organization during P4A.

This year fans of John and Hank were more excited than ever to put in for the P4A raffle tickets.  The most exciting prize was John Green’s zombie apocalypse novella.  One lucky Nerdfighter will receive the only copy of the book which will be signed and extensively annotated, while all others that put in for it will receive an email of the novella, which John never intends to officially publish.  Hanks big prize is the winner of the raffle to be the name of his new album.  If the winner’s name is Jeff, then Hank will name his next album “Jeff.”  The Vlogbrothers also raffled off John’s old nerd glasses and the last John Green bobble head.  Other noted members in the Youtube community donated prizes too.  Alex Day (nerimon) put in his copy of Twilight, which he reviewed and mocked in a series of videos.  Kristina Horner and Luke Conrad of the online based band All Caps offered their prize winner to help them with  the lyrics for a song.  Most of the prizes were personal, and were items that would only hold meaning to their followers.

December 17, 2010 does not mark the end of giving to these amazing charities.  The event will most likely escalate to something we cannot fathom now.  Also, all past P4A videos are still available for viewing at http://www.youtube.com/p4a (check the favorites section!), and you can still watch them, spread the word, and donate at any time of the year.  Even if their isn’t raffle prizes involved, the reward of helping people or animals in need should be reward enough.  This Star Won’t Go Out is selling bracelet’s to raise revenue at http://dftba.com/.  They’re seven dollars and all proceeds (besides shipping) go to the organization.

Project for Awesome is an amazing day, where the largest entertainment website is not centered on drunken antics, kittens, or ourselves.  It binds together a community for the sake of others, and it reminds us that those who we see as “other” are really a part of us.  As John Green puts it, “We learn that people that live far away from us are not fundamentally other…Start seeing them as part of us.”  Helping other people is helping people who are part of us.  A website focused on our entertainment takes the chance to realize this.  We need to reciprocate.

Check out the awesomeness:

Save the Children
VlogBrothers
John Green Remembers Esther

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