When the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan last year, Alexandria Rhodes of Tallmadge was stunned by how social media made the tragedy so real to those living a world away.
Taken by what she read on Twitter, the Kent State University English major stepped into action to help the victims.
“I just really wanted to help out,” she explained. “I didn’t know what I could do, but … something.”
Rhodes, 22, a senior, said that during the disaster’s aftermath, it appeared Twitter users were trying to help victims track down family members whom they feared may have been washed away.
Knowing that social media fundraisers could be successful, she partnered with three others, including a social media friend in Georgia, to create a fan fiction fandom using social media. (Fan fiction writers use another author’s characters or situations to create new stories.)
Through media like Facebook, Twitter and blogs, the team spread the word to authors and celebrities, asking them to contribute stories as part of a compilation that donors received after giving a minimum of $10 to assist the tsunami victims.
More than 200 writers donated 250 fan fiction, poetry and original fiction stories, including E.L. James, author of the popular Fifty Shades of Grey (which was originally written as Twilight fan fiction).
The goal was to raise $5,000, but at the conclusion of the project, which lasted three months, some 1,500 people had donated $70,000 for the cause.
“It was mind-boggling,” Rhodes said. “There are so many popular authors on Twitter that write fan fiction. People would do anything to have an exclusive piece of writing from their favorite story or author. We had celebrities and conventions like Creation Entertainment donate autographed photos and anything that would catch the eye of a fan.”
The money donated went to the tsunami relief fund set up by the Red Cross.
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.