As a U.S. citizen living in Costa Rica, I’ve always felt a little sad about the fact that Black Friday is alive and well here without the counterweight of gratitude that Thanksgiving and, more recently, Giving Tuesday can represent. Of course, you don’t need a holiday to be thankful and give back, but it can be nice to have an outward reminder of what’s important. That’s why I’ve loved working on the #GraciasCostaRica campaign launched on Giving Tuesday (this past Dec. 1) by the Costa Rica U.S.A. Foundation for Cooperation, or CRUSA, where I am the development officer.
The idea behind the campaign is pretty simple: Everyone who loves Costa Rica has a story, and we want to hear yours. Costa Ricans, international residents, one-time visitors, and even fans of the country who are still dreaming of coming here one day are invited to visit the campaign website, tell the world what they love most about the country – in English or Spanish – and upload a photo or video, if desired.
No donation is required. We’ve been thrilled to see that many participants are inspired to check out the projects on the page and make a gift after they leave their message, but simply by joining in and sharing your message with your friends and family, you’ll help draw attention to the nonprofit initiatives in education, conservation and rural development that are featured on CRUSA’s unique binational donation platform, operated through Amigos of Costa Rica, a 501(c)(3) organization that serves as our branch in Washington, D.C.
This week, you can even trigger a donation from someone else just by uploading a message. Donors to various projects will match messages with a gift. On Wednesday, Dec. 16, Cosí restaurants will match every message that mentions ASOBITICO with a donation to the International Baccalaureate in Public Schools program; on Thursday, Dec. 16, every message that mentions JumpStart will prompt a donation to JumpStart Costa Rica’s intensive English camps for low-income kids; and on Friday, Dec. 17, messages with the word “math” or “matemática” will be matched with a donation to the National Mathematics Reform that’s transforming public-school math programs. (Follow the campaign in Spanish or in English for further details on this week’s matching opportunities.)
So far we’ve heard from celebrities such as news anchor Ginnés Rodríguez, television personality Mauricio Hoffman, and Mauricio “El Chunche” Montero of World Cup 1990 fame; expats who’ve shared their love for their adopted country; people who no longer live here, but who carry Costa Rica in their hearts or even started their families here; and, of course, Costa Ricans from far and wide, who have chosen to highlight their beloved hometowns or regions, snap a picture of themselves in the snow as they study abroad, or describe the causes close to their hearts. To see all of the messages left so far by people around the country and the world, visit us here.
I invite readers of The Tico Times to join the campaign, active through Dec. 23, to help us end the year with a celebration of a country we love and a boost for projects that are working to give something back.
Katherine Stanley Obando is The Tico Times’ arts and entertainment editor. She also is a freelance writer, translator, former teacher, development officer of the Costa Rica U.S.A. Foundation for Cooperation, and academic director of JumpStart Costa Rica. She lives in San José. Follow her on Twitter or visit her blog “The Dictionary of You,” where she writes about Costa Rican language and culture, and raising a child abroad.