COLLEGE PLACE - High unemployment may be affecting families across the state but that did not stop almost 880 listeners throughout the Inland Northwest contributing to Positive Life Radio's ninth annual Rice for Cambodia pledge drive last week.
The event resulted in the donation of more than $134,000, which will purchase 338 tons of rice for the people of the Southeast Asian country.
Positive Life Radio, on the campus of Walla Walla University, reaches listeners in Eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Despite the difficult economic times, the donations continued to pour in through phone calls and e-mails.
Ernest Beck, program director for the station, attributed the generosity to the campaign's integrity and the connections made with listeners over the years.
"One hundred percent of the funding goes to the rice," Beck explained. "Which is something you don't see very often. And people realize that even though it's tough times here, it's nothing compared to the starvation in Cambodia."
Station employees were joined by local volunteers, student workers, and staff members from TransformAsia and Musicianaries, partnering charities that help fund and distribute the rice in Cambodia. It was Positive Life Radio's first Rice for Cambodia campaign without Musicianaries founder Bobby Michaels, who died in March. However, the presence of his wife, Lee, and daughter, Rachel Esterhuyse, was a more-than-welcome addition to the event, as listeners and staff shared their memories of Michaels and his life of giving.
For some of the staff, it has been a pleasant surprise to see so many listeners care so deeply for the people of Cambodia.
Beck has a theory, "It's doing something for somebody on the other side of the planet and you know there are a lot of orchards and farms in the Inland Northwest, so perhaps they can relate to the idea of sending rice and giving food. People making their living off the land hits close to home."
If you would like more information about Rice for Cambodia or would like to contribute, call Positive Life Radio at 1-800-355-4757 or go to www.plr.org.