Help Passports With Purpose Build a School in Cambodia

Better late than never, I say, so here’s my pitch—with just one final week before Christmas—to get you to do another good deed this holiday season: Participate in Passports With Purpose, a terrific holiday raffle fundraiser founded and supported by travel bloggers.

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Passports With Purpose came together last year after a few Seattle-based writers—Beth Whitman, Debbie Dubrow, Michelle Duffy and my favorite ukulele player Pam Mandel—got together and decided they wanted to do “something more” for the holiday season. In a matter of a few short weeks, they solicited prizes from the online travel world, requested donations in the form of $10 bids per item, and managed to raise $7,400, which went to support programs managed by Heifer International.

This year the beneficiary is a place near and dear to my heart—Cambodia, and Passports With Purpose has raised the ante to $26,000 to build a school through the organization American Assistance for Cambodia (AAFC).

Anyone who’s known me for a long time knows that Cambodia is the country that really captivated me during my eight-month stay in Southeast Asia 10 years ago. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how a people so poor and devastated for years—the Vietnam War until 1975, the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975-79, the Vietnamese occupation from 1979-89, and the civil strife and impoverishment that followed—could also be the most welcoming, generous and sincere of all the people I encountered during that trip.

Cambodia, however, also remains the poorest country I’ve ever visited. I’ll never forget the sight of naked children crawling over garbage piles searching for morsels of food. Or the barely standing bamboo huts with holes so large they offered virtually no protection from the elements.

How can we help improve Cambodia’s quality of life? Education is one answer.

Cambodia school children. (Courtesy of Talea Miller, Online NewsHour)

Cambodia school children. (Courtesy of Talea Miller, Online NewsHour)

The first $13,000 needed to build the school has been raised, but now Passports With Purpose needs another $13,000 to ensure that the students in the school you will help build have clean water, healthy meals and medical care—all for just $10 per bid. All proceeds go directly to AAFC, a 501(c)(3) charity.

So what are you waiting for? There’s only one week left to donate, and the list of prizes this year is even better than last and includes plenty of great travel items. Here are some favorites:

– 5 Nights at Los Suenos Resort in Costa Rica, valued at $2,746
– 3 Nights at an Aqua Hotel in Waikiki, valued at $830
– FLIP Mino 60 Minute Video Camcorder, valued at $179
– Kodak Zi6 Pocket Video Camera, valued at $180
– Briggs & Riley Baseline 20” Carry-On Expandable Wide-Body Upright, valued at $369
– Kelty Backpack, valued at $160
– $100 gift certificate to B&H photo

There are many more prizes to choose from, and you can see the complete list here.

Last year I participated through my former company, TravelMuse. This year I’m sweetening the prize lot with an occasion cake, valued at $500 (can serve up to 75 people), from Cake Alchemy, headed by pastry chef extraordinaire Lauri Ditunno, whom you can see on the WETV network’s show Amazing Wedding Cakes. I’ve used Lauri’s cakes exclusively for parties and events for several years now and can assure you that she’ll create one of the best-tasting and creative cakes you’ve ever eaten. You can work with Lauri to create a cake that meets your needs, and it can be shipped within the 48 continental states.

So go. Now. Bid. Passports With Purpose. And know that your contribution, even if it’s only $10, will help make a big difference in the lives of a lot of needy and appreciative children.

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