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Social Media Guides Post-Sandy Volunteer Efforts

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s decision to cancel Sunday’s marathon after a few days of contentious debate left thousands of individuals with race plans and very low-body fat wondering what to do with themselves this weekend. What did these frustrated runners do? Many staged their own unofficial marathons–and quite a few simultaneously began organizing via social media to help the storm’s victims.

Twitter hash tags like #nycvolunteerathon and Facebook pages like “New York Runners in Support of Staten Island” earned thousands of followers in mere hours, providing information to help those interested in volunteering figure out where their efforts would be most effective. Other sites like the “Marathon of Relief” page also directed users to locations on the Internet and around the New York area where they could donate time, funds or goods to the recovery effort.

A revived Occupy also emerged after the storm with a new role: members of the movement created a spin-off group called Occupy Sandy that used its existing infrastructure to help raise funds and arrange volunteer shifts in areas of New York City that had been particularly hard hit by the storm.

In summary, the past week offered quite a few examples of people making the most of two less-than-ideal events: A huge storm and the cancellation of a major cultural event. The fact that they did it almost exclusively via social media–and that related feedback was overwhelmingly positive despite the countless headaches caused by the storm–is reason to feel a little better about the human race today.

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