Our partners in health: The Harry Potter Alliance, wizards with a cause

Posted on Feb 21, 2010


Harry Potter Alliance Executive Director Andrew Slack presenting PIH's Jackson Compere with a check for $123,754.41.


The wizards Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger will soon be flying to help with earthquake relief efforts. Well, kind of. In recognition of a substantial contribution from the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), an online community comprised of Harry Potter and sci-fi/fantasy fans, Partners In Health (PIH) is naming three Haiti-bound cargo planes, each filled thousands of pounds of relief supplies, after the wizarding trio made famous by J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books. HPA raised $123,754.41 USD for PIH’s Haiti relief effort through its Helping Haiti Heal campaign.

"The aircraft 'Harry', 'Ron' and 'Hermione' may not be able to cast spells, but the cargo they are carrying may as well be magic,” said PIH’s Director of Procurement Kathryn Kempton. “They will save thousands of lives by providing desperately needed medicines and supplies to the people of Haiti.”

“[HPA is] dedicated to using the examples of Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore to spread love and fight the Dark Arts in the real world,” said Andrew Slack, executive director of the HPA website (www.thehpalliance.org). HPA was formed in 2005 with the goal of raising awareness on issues such as global warming, poverty, and genocide. “[We] encourag[e] our members to hone the magic of their creativity in endeavoring to make the world a better place,” added Slack. The website has been viewed by 100,000 site visitors, many of whom belong to one of HPA’s 50 chapters.

HPA has introduced an emerging generation of young adults to the world of activism through an online world where they can impact local politics and contribute to global initiatives. To date, their projects have included: fundraising for NGO work in Darfur and Burma, donating books to Rwanda, calling Maine voters on behalf of the Mass Equality movement, raising awareness of Rwanda’s genocide in U.S. high schools, and registering first time voters with the Wizard Rock the Vote campaign in 2008.

HPA’s donation to PIH continues the organization’s history of giving. “I want to make sure that the HPA brings our fan community together to benefit an organization that is already in an authentic partnership with the Haitian people and intends to stay in [that partnership] long after the immediate effects of the earthquake subside," said Slack.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter book series, was proud to support HPA’s fundraising drive. “You cannot imagine how awed, moved and humbled I am to know that planes named Harry, Ron and Hermione are going to be flying off to help,” wrote Rowling in the online forum The Leaky Cauldron.  “I did not need this to remind me how extraordinary Harry’s fans are, but you keep giving me proof. THANK YOU!”

The fundraising campaign featured a live webcast with musical entertainment and performances; and a raffle contest in which contributors became eligible to win any number of 200-plus donated gifts, including: a boxed set of all seven Harry Potter books, signed by Rowling, with an accompanying handwritten note; a signed guitar owned by Tom Felton (the actor who plays Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies); a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the final book of the series) signed by the movie’s cast; and a chance to have authors John Green or Maureen Johnson write a 1,000 word story inspired by the winner’s prompts.

“We are so grateful for the incredible generosity and creativity of the Harry Potter Alliance and the entire community involved with Helping Haiti Heal," said Kempton. "Partners In Health feels fortunate to receive this outpouring of support from such caring and compassionate people – thank you all!”

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Harry Potter Alliance Executive Director Andrew Slack with PIH's schedule of flights that will bring desperately needed supplies and personnel into Haiti.

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