A piece in today's New York Times notes that the existence of $10 bed nets makes charity for malaria easy, cool, and almost addictive. Our kids' school ran a Nothing But Nets fundraiser this spring. I had the privilege of giving a lecture to a couple hundred very sharp elementary school kids about what malaria is, how you get it, and what we can do to eradicate it.
Classrooms competed to see which could raise the most money and, this being Palo Alto, I think there was a lot of money raised. I also had the amazing experience of clandestinely watching my own son open up his piggy bank one morning before school, pull out his own money (and there's not a whole lot of it in there), and decide to contribute his own $10 in addition to the $100 we had already given his class. You could see the reasoning being played out on his face: "If I give this $10 bill, I can help save the lives of a family of four. That's more important than a new Wii game." I was very very proud, to say the least. Providing kids with the opportunity to do good and feel like they are making a difference can lead to some incredible behavior. Maybe, just maybe, there's hope for us still.