Polar bear sock snack helps raise US$20,000 for UNHCR
BURY ST EDMUNDS, United Kingdom, October 9 (UNHCR) - A woollen sock savaged by polar bears in the Arctic earlier this year helped raise more than US$20,000 for the UN refugee agency at a charity auction in Britain.
The sock was among kit carried by former UNHCR staff member Jake Morland and teacher, James Turner, during their successful 14-day bid earlier this year to win the Polar Race 2007 from Canada's Cornwallis Island to the magnetic North Pole. Two days into the race, the young Britons were stunned when a pair of male polar bears rampaged through their camp before leaving.
The two men, who took part in the biennial race to try and raise £250,000 (US$495,000) for UNHCR operations, presided over Saturday's auction at the co-ed boarding school, Moreton Hall, located in the ancient English town of Bury St Edmunds. Popular BBC presenter Kate Humble helped the daring duo.
Parents and guests from across rural Suffolk County bid for a wide range of items, including paintings, jewellery, theatre tickets, champagne lunches in London, a vacation in Italy, football tickets, garden designs and a cake.
The framed sock proved a major hit, with bidders forcing the price up to more than US$1,000. The new owner donated it to Moreton Hall, which proved a popular move with the students. They had earlier heard from Morland and Turner about the very different kind of life that refugee children live around the world.
The two adventurers have raised the equivalent of more than US$100,000 to date. They plan to continue seeking donations and to visit more schools and institutions, raising money and awareness. They want to use the money to aid particularly needy refugee children.
In the next few weeks, Morland and Turner will talk about their trek and fund-raising events at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club and London's prestigious Traveller's Club.
Britons are working to support the work of the UN refugee agency in ever greater numbers. Students of Manchester University's Moberly Hall raised more than US$1,400 for UNHCR during a series of events earlier this year to help commemorate the Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Over the summer, Do Gooders Presents, composed of a group of Londoners, organized a charity photo exhibition that raised more than $1,800.
Other UK residents have been responding generously to UNHCR's fund-raising appeals to support its work in Darfur and other corners of the globe through its new charitable arm, the UN Refugee Agency UK Trust.
By Peter Kessler in Bury St Edmunds, United Kingdom