Doing What We Can

Over the last year, I’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie books to my oldest boy. I ended up reading the sixth book, The Long Winter, in the middle of a bitterly cold January at my father’s cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin.

I have to say, I’ve rarely been more caught up in a book. Without going into too much detail, it tells the story of how the Ingalls family lived through a truly horrific winter out on the frontier back in the 1880’s.

So there I am, in a Little Cabin in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. It’s 30 below outside, (-34 Celsius). Then, at 2:00 am, the LP tank runs out of gas.


For you city dwellers, an LP tank is like a big propane tank for your house if you live out in the country. It provides natural gas for your stove, your water heater, and… well, your furnace.

So the cabin starts getting cold, and my dad and I haul in wood and light a fire in the old cast-iron stove. We feed it all night, and make it til morning without much trouble. The place has modern insulation, after all. The kids stay warm with extra blankets and the water pipes don’t freeze. Still, it’s an eye-opener.

That night I read a few more chapters to my boy about a pioneer family trying to survive in a building that’s not much more than a wooden shack. No insulation. No electricity. Cut off from civilization due to blizzards. They have a stove too, but there’s no coal. No firewood. They keep alive by burning hay. All they have to eat is potatoes. Then even the potatoes run out and they have nothing to eat but grain.

It goes on for months, and while I’m reading, all I can think is: How can people possibly survive like this?

The next morning, I stumble onto an article about the Syrian refugees. Lebanon just had its worst blizzard in a decade. Feet of snow. And most refugees don’t even have a clapboard shack for shelter. They’ve got tents. Tarps. They have nothing. They’re freezing to death. Kids are freezing to death in the snow.

So I call Maria.

*     *     *

As many of you know, I have a charity called Worldbuilders. We raise money from the geek community and use it to make the world a better place. Over the last several years we’ve raised about 3.5 million dollars.

Worldbuilders-Logo_Web - crop smaller

We work primarily with Heifer International because they offer the biggest bang for our buck. Heifer focuses on providing people with tools, education, and infrastructure so that they can become self-reliant forever. It’s the whole teach-a-person-to-fish thing. Except Heifer is actually better than that, because they also teach people to teach *other* people to fish. Which means the good they do is like an ever-growing avalanche rolling forward into the future.

I used to run Worldbuilders, but not anymore. These days Maria runs it, because she’s roughly 8000 times better at it than I ever was.

So I call Maria up and say, “Syrian Refugees are freezing to death. Can Worldbuilders give them some money to help?”

There’s a pause on the other end of the phone. Maria isn’t surprised. She’s just thinking. I call her like this all the time, saying things like: “I need a map of 18th century Ghent,” or “Why don’t we sell greeting cards in our online store? Can we get than ready by tomorrow?” or “Is it illegal for me to have a laser gun? And if so, how illegal? And also, can you find someone to build me a laser gun?”

It says a lot about Maria that she has never tried to choke me. Not even once.

So Maria is quiet on the phone for about 8 seconds, processing. Then she says, “We’d need to make sure the money goes to the right place.”

“There’s a place called Mercy Corps,” I said. “I haven’t checked them out completely, but they seem solid. Also, right now someone is offering matching funds, so if we hurry, we’ll be able to double up on our donation.”

“Okay,” Maria says. “I think that’s workable.”

Now I hesitate. “I worry that people might be upset if we support another charity,” I say. “We talk a lot about Heifer. I don’t want people to feel like we’re pulling a switch on them.”

“We’ve made donations to First Book,” Maria points out. “No one was bothered by that.”

“True,” I say. “But this isn’t the sort of charity we normally support. It’s not about education or sustainability. But long-term help isn’t appropriate here. These people don’t have anything. They need blankets. They need heaters and fuel.”

“I think we should do it,” Maria says.

“But when people donate or buy something in our store, they’re trusting us to put the money to good use,” I say. “I don’t want to risk that trust by changing charities on them all of a sudden. How about I give some money to Worldbuilders, then Worldbuilders donates it to Mercy Corps? That seems safer.”

“If that’s the way you want to do it,” Maria says. “I’ll look into them and make sure it’s a good charity.”

And that’s what we did. It was different for us. Worldbuilders usually tries to work for long-term change, but we knew this donation wouldn’t solve the refugee problem. It won’t give them homes and jobs. But you can’t teach someone to fish when they’re freezing to death. Sometimes all you can do is keep people warm. Sometimes all you can do help a little, and that has to be enough.

*     *     *

Fast forward to now.

Unless you’ve been living under a heavy rock, you’ve been hearing a lot about the Syrian refugees lately. I’ve heard there’s a picture of a little boy that drowned trying to get somewhere safe. I haven’t seen it, and I’m not going to go looking for it either. I don’t want to see it, and I wouldn’t put something like that in my blog.

Instead, here’s a picture of The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.


Its population is 79,900. Making it the fourth largest city in the country. There’s a lot of kids there. 

I can’t imagine what it would be like, having to flee my country with my kids. I can’t imagine abandoning everything just hoping to keep my little boys safe. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a tent and just hope desperately that someone helps me.

Actually that’s not true. I can imagine what it’s like. I can imagine *exactly* what it’s like. I’m a writer. That’s what I do. I can imagine it and it’s horrifying.

This video touches on the edge of it. It’s a only a minute and a half long. You have the time.

My imagination is much worse than that. It makes it hard for me to sleep at night. 

Every day I see more of this stuff. And every day it makes me feel more helpless. Hopeless. Angry at the world.

Then I saw this:


This woman is named Petra Laszlo. She’s a journalist. This picture shows her tripping a refugee carrying a child in his arms. (Story here if you like.)

It’s been days since I first saw this. And I am still so angry. I’m so angry I can feel it in my chest. My skin prickles. I’m so angry that I can’t even describe it to you. I have no words for it. Nothing is big enough.

I believe that people are good. I really do. It’s one of the truths I live my life by. It’s one of the things I cling to when I have trouble sleeping at night. I’ve seen such proof of it through the years. From my children. From my readers. From the fact that so many people come together to make Worldbuilders a success.

But this. It’s makes me wonder if maybe I’m wrong. 

I hate that this is the world. And I’m so angry. And I’m tired of feeling like I can’t do anything to help.

So I call Maria.

*     *     *

So. For the next week, Worldbuilders is raising money to help the Syrian refugees.

What’s more, Worldbuilders will be matching donations for the first $25,000 of the fundraiser. So if you kick in 10 bucks, it turns into 20. Donate $50? We’ll turn it into a $100.


(Like this.)

100% of the money from this fundraiser will be donated to Mercy Corps, because they’re already on the ground, helping out the refugees. They have more than 30 years of experience doing this sort of thing. We’ve checked them out and they’re excellent.

I’m taking a flier on this one, folks. It’s an experiment. We haven’t planned this the way we normally do. We aren’t giving out prizes. There aren’t any stretch goals. We don’t have any media lined up to help us spread the word.

This is just about helping people who are in desperate need of help.

And honestly? It’s kinda ridiculous for us to do this now. Our big end-of-the-year fundraiser in November, we should be focusing on that. That would be the smart thing for us to do.

But the simple truth is this: I can’t just watch this happen any more. I need to do something to help. I’m guessing a lot of you feel the same way, so I thought I’d give us a chance to do it together.

I don’t want to feel angry and hopeless any more. I want to see more pictures like this:


If this isn’t your kind of charity, I completely understand. Rest assured that Worldbuilders will be doing its regular fundraising extravaganza in a couple months.

But if you want to help, you can do it over here.

Thanks for reading to the end, folks. I appreciate it.


Edit 9:47 am: I posted this blog late last night, not knowing what the reaction might be. Whenever you reach out to people like this, it’s a risk. What’s more, I hadn’t done a lot of planning, and I was worried it might not go over well. Around 4:00 I finally managed to get to sleep.

A few minutes ago I woke up, blearily checked my phone, and saw that we’ve raised over $28,000. I’ve never been so happy to be awake after only 5 hours of sleep. And I’m going to give Worldbuilders another 25,000 dollars so they can keep matching donations. I’d love to see this thing keep rolling.

Edit 1:28 pm: We just hit $50,000 and within minutes, someone dropped us an e-mail, offering to provide us another $25,000 to help us continue matching donations. She would like to remain anonymous. But I salute her generosity, as it means all donations up to $75,000 are going to be doubled. 

I am having the best day ever.

Edit 6:18 pm: We just hit $75,000, and another lovely human being has stepped up with $5000 dollars so we can continue to match donations. I’m not sure if he wants to remain anonymous or not, but until we know, we’ll keep his name private. Named or not, he’s the reason donations are being matched up to $80,000.

Edit 8:05 pm: Just when we were closing in on $80,000 we got an e-mail from someone who offered to match another $20,000 dollars. When I saw the e-mail I actually laughed out loud. I’ve been laughing so much today, and it’s all because of you guys.

Thanks to our newest citizen philanthropist, we’re now matching all donations up to $100,000 dollars.

(If anyone else cares to drop us a line, our e-mail is

This entry was posted in calling on the legions, Worldbuilders. By Pat77 Responses


  1. SporkTastic
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 1:15 AM | Permalink

    I lost my faith in humanity and spiraled down to hopelessness and despair years ago, having realizations like this about the people we are and the ways we’ll go out of our way to keep anyone from helping us, even if it’s genuinely going to improve our situations. In the course of a decade I have come very close to putting myself back together, and I’m working to get a degree in science so I can help make the world a better place.

    This brought tears to my eyes. If I let it, despair could swallow me again at the thought that…

    But I try. I fight. Some days it’s better than others, some days it’s worse. I’m not sure where today falls on that scale, honestly, but I do know this: you’re one of the good ones, Pat. You give me hope. Thank you.

    • GreenTea
      Posted September 11, 2015 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

      Hey Spork,

      You’re not alone. There are others, myself included, who have had long periods of seeming darkness.

      Try and get outside as much as possible. Try and keep exercising, even if it’s just a short walk. Get your close friends and confide in them, and call them up often. You won’t be a bother.

      Keep busy, and always know what you’re feeling is the worst it’ll be. It will get better.

      And don’t despair. I know how the news made me feel awful daily, and frankly, if you can donate to this, great. Do so & move on. Don’t linger in your thoughts.

      Seek out a therapist if that will help. It won’t hurt.

      It’ll get better, trust me.

      • Auri Rodrigues
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

        Well said, Green Tea!
        All of us need a specific kind of help at different moments of our lives. Sometimes the civil war lies on our inner core. Then, the essential thing might be trying to support each other with the tools we possess in order to survive.
        Sharing love is never too much.
        Kisses to you and Spork,

        • GreenTea
          Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

          And thanks to Pat– he brought us all together. :-)

        • SporkTastic
          Posted September 12, 2015 at 2:00 AM | Permalink

          I love your username, Auri!

          I do tend to be my own worst enemy…but I think that’s probably true of most people. I *definitely* appreciate the support, and agree that our way forward lies in building each other up.

          • Auri Rodrigues
            Posted September 12, 2015 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

            I’m happy to finally meet so many people who like my name. Especially nice and intelligent people such as most of you, guys! I grew up listening that it was different, therefore, a weird name. A perfect suit for myself, I guess. Anyway…
            Besides, Spork, I thank you for your polite way of calling my attention to the proper usage of ‘lies in/on’ in English. I truly enjoy learning new things, so I appreciate your kind instruction (*muito obrigada!*). I’m sure you are going to give great contributions to the world as both a scientist and a teacher. All the best to you!

          • SporkTastic
            Posted September 22, 2015 at 3:16 AM | Permalink

            Thanks, Auri! Don’t let other people’s opinions bother you (if you can manage that) – our differences are our strengths. Also, English is a difficult language – it hardly ever makes sense, and even native speakers have trouble with it at least some of the time. :-)

            I hope I’m able to contribute to making the world a better place when I can, too. Be well, have fun!

      • SporkTastic
        Posted September 12, 2015 at 1:57 AM | Permalink

        I appreciate that, Green. I’m seeing both a therapist and a psychiatrist; we’re still looking for the right mix, but I’m hopeful that we’ll find it. Recently (ish) decided to follow my passion, which has helped. And I’ve got a pretty good support network. None of us know why it’s humanity’s woes that bother me, there’s not a whole lot that I can do about it (racism in America, for example, is kind of beyond my reach to affect).

        Thanks again.

  2. Silvergaze
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 1:51 AM | Permalink

    I don’t even have words to describe what I’m feeling at seeing that photo… is there a word that means “a nihilistic emptiness following the sudden departure of joy,” and “a Krakatoan volcanic rage,” at the same time?

    • Silvergaze
      Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:03 AM | Permalink

      Apathecanic. Close as I can get. The point is, I get sick of seeing horrible things happening in the world, but knowing that there are good people like Pat in the world lets me sleep at night knowing that some small difference is being made somewhere. I hope to be able to scrounge up a few extra bucks to toss this way if I can.

    • Echinoidea
      Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

      I don’t have the words either – but I do have some music which comes close. It’s Miserere, by the Polish composer Henryk Górecki. It’s 35 minutes of an acapella choir singing ‘Domine Deus Noster Miserere nobis’ (Lord our God have mercy on us). I’m not Christian, but it’s still the only thing which even comes close to embodying my feelings when I see stuff like this. I have cause to listen to it more often than I would like.

      I don’t really have the money to spare to contribute much financially, but once I’ve done writing up my PhD thesis I’m hoping that I will have the time to do both some volunteer work and some political activism to help Syrian and other refugees.

  3. CreativeName
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 3:15 AM | Permalink

    Pat, your calculator must be broken. ;-)

    30 °F ≈ – 1.1 °C

    – 34 °C would be colder than the average temperature in the arctic tundra during winter.

    • CreativeName
      Posted September 11, 2015 at 3:37 AM | Permalink

      Nevermind. I just found out that “30 below” means “-30” and not “below +30” (not a native speaker). In that case, you’re correct. :-)

      • Posted September 11, 2015 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

        It regularly hits -30 degrees here in Wisconsin in the winter. And that’s not even counting windchill.

    • flotiste
      Posted September 12, 2015 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

      I’m from Edmonton, and it would regularly get -40, which is the same temperature in Celsius and Fahrenheit.

  4. wolfknight1977
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 3:30 AM | Permalink

    This and things like this are the reason that I respect the hell out of you Pat. You see a problem and it eats at you ,and that voice in the back of our collective heads that reminds us that we are a family , drives you to,”Do Something!!!!!!”, about it instead of ringing your hand over it. Good on you sir, good on you

  5. Sandhya
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 3:50 AM | Permalink

    Love you more…thank you

  6. VeroG
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 4:31 AM | Permalink

    You’re lucky if you haven’t seen the image of the drowned kid. I’m from Spain and here we have been continuously bombed with that image: newspapers, TV, internet, Facebook… everywhere. The sad thing is that people start to “pay attention” to this drama after the image, and not before that. The sad thing is that there were no actions to avoid the image of the little kid lying on the seaside. Regarding the video of the journalist tripping the refugee… I have no words.

    In the opposite hand there are images that remember me there’s still a ray of light for the human being. I’ve recently seen an image full of tenderness in the news; there was a father playing with puppets with his little daughter. She was laughing with the “puppet theater” invented by her father, it almost looked like they weren’t sitting on a dirty floor in the refugees camp. I broke in tears.

    I don’t know how the European Union image about this conflict in America is, but I can tell you that what the people is demanding is not what politicians are offering. The PEOPLE’s solidarity is on top of rules and politicians. The Spanish villages and cities are offering whatever they have (gyms, houses, whatever) to the refugees, they are demonstrating that the ridiculous number of people the governments are negotiating to receive in each country is exactly that: ridiculous.

    Thanks for this post.

    • laura118b
      Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:12 AM | Permalink

      I think a lot of us know that the way the people feel is not being reflected by the governments. The Hungarians proved that when they lined the roads giving whatever they could from their own homes.

    • Liam
      Posted September 11, 2015 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

      I’m from Canada, where the drowned boy’s aunt was trying to sponsor his refugee claim, and which is currently in the middle of the closest election race in a decade. The ruling party is presently tripping over itself to either prove why this is really the fault of the refugees themselves, why we must be concerned primary for security because these refugees “are coming from a terrorist warzone,” why Canada’s embarrassingly meagre handful of accepted refugees makes us “the most generous refugee-accepting nation in the World,” and how the *real* solution to this problem lies in our limited millitary commitment in Iraq against the IS. And sadly, a far too-large portion of Canadians agree with it.

      Thankfully that party seems poised to lose this election, and a majority of Canadians think we need to do more to assist the refugees. Still…

  7. Tamy25
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 5:21 AM | Permalink

    I’m living in Central Europe, so the refugee crisis is happening right next to me. Till now only few refugees have reached our country, but because of the everyday news on the refugee topic I’m very familiar with how bad the position with refugees really is. And like you already know the position is really bad and I cannot express how helpless I feel because I can’t do much about it. And I feel even worse when I see most of the people don’t even care and don’t want to help.

    But your post gave me hope that there are still people in the world that actually care for what’s happening and are prepared to help. I am a big fan of your books and I’ve been reading posts on your blog for quite a while, but this one truly moved me. What you’re doing is truly awesome, honorable and inspiring and if there were more people like you this world would be a better place.

    Thank you so much for your post! (and sorry for my bad grammar)

    • Tamy25
      Posted September 11, 2015 at 5:29 AM | Permalink

      Also I don’t mean there aren’t any people who are prepared to help, I just wish there would be more.

  8. Posted September 11, 2015 at 6:18 AM | Permalink

    Go Pat (& Worldbuilders)! I’m totally in!!!

  9. idlemuse
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 6:35 AM | Permalink

    “It made a difference for that one.”

  10. Raheem
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 6:43 AM | Permalink

    You’re lucky if you haven’t seen the pic of that drowned kid. Very lucky. I still haven’t got over it. I’d share this post on all my social media outlets and hope people would see it and donate. It’s a shame I don’t have the means to donate myself.

  11. Sean
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:28 AM | Permalink

    Done. Thanks, Pat.

  12. lovelylass987
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:37 AM | Permalink

    I donated to Save the Children when I first saw that picture of the little boy, and definitely my runner-up was Mercy Corps. They do good work, and some of my friends are all about going and volunteering with them as soon as they retire.

    I just donated a bit more through your campaign. I hope we reach the 25k mark, and it’s at 14k now, so it’s pretty likely.

  13. CSP_Charlie
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:48 AM | Permalink

    There is a lot of anger out there at the moment. I commend the charity work and don’t for a second think that people will be put out by the temporary shift in focus from World Builders, especially as people are being told in advance about the redirecting of funds.

    What I struggle with is the PR campaigns that are being wrought off the back of what is going on with Syrian refugees. My social media feeds have been inundated with videos of far-right wing propaganda twisting the story of these refugees to further their own political message. It becomes difficult to sort the crap from the truth. I am British and am ashamed to admit that there are a lot of “Britain First” right-wing videos floating around on social media, turning the refugee situation into a fear-mongering campaign.

    It makes me happy to see the work going on with World Builders cutting through the crap, saying these people need our help. How do we help them? Without putting everything to an agenda.

    Thank you.

  14. Kthaeh
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:48 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for doing this, for giving my anguish about the situation and my anger at that Petra Laszlo bitch a decent outlet. I’m in.

  15. Amanda
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:52 AM | Permalink

    I want to just say that waking up this morning to see that we’re already at $15,000 made me cry. I love everyone here.

    • SporkTastic
      Posted September 12, 2015 at 2:00 AM | Permalink

      Pat’s people are definitely good people. :-)

  16. Auri Rodrigues
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

    Well done, lovely people!
    It only hurts me that we have so few resources to offer at this moment of deep crisis here, in Brazil… However, we are pleased to receive with open doors, arms, and hearts all syrian refugees willing to share the good things we still have here.
    Love is one of them.

  17. Valarya
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:06 AM | Permalink

    Done. I’m thankful for being a Rothfuss fan.

    I’ve seen that picture of the drowned child show up on all my social networks several times and I just sit there sobbing every time I see it. :(

  18. unhurt
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

    Thank you Pat for bringing this to my attention.

    Honestly I read your blog more often than the news, seems weird but it’s true. And while I’m “connected” most the day (I sit in front of a computer 9-10 hours a day), my eyes seem to block the world out.

    When you see things going on like this my typical reaction is to feel angry, but then you feel hopeless because “what can I do?”. Thanks for an outlet for the the latter.

  19. justajenjen
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:23 AM | Permalink

    Thank you, Pat and Maria and Amanda and everyone else there at Worldbuilders. Just thank you. I’m an American living in France and I’m outraged at the way the EU is dealing with this and I’m outraged by how the American government is just ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. Yes, I realize that the governments of the different countries have to be careful of how many people they can accept because it is going to be a long term problem, but right now not enough is being done. There’s a family living in a park near my house right now, on their way to relatives further inside the country.

    I will say that one small thing has helped restore my faith in people. I’ve gotten in touch with a few charities that had been collecting warm clothing and things and they were overwhelmed with donations very quickly after announcing their need. Private citizens are doing something and it is helping.

  20. Arydis
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:40 AM | Permalink


    Like you, I have two boys and as I safely walked through my peaceful little neighborhood last night, I too thought about these Syrian refugees. I thought about the unfairness of our modern world still covered in war, about families forced to grab what they can and run, about all of us who come to borders and say, “you can’t come here.”

    I thought about the violence and oppression that would lead me to believe that my family’s best chance is to load up my two little boys into an overcrowded raft going out to sea. The helplessness of losing my children to the sea, struggling to find them in the dark. The horrors I imagine. In Syria and for those Syrian refugees, those horrors are real.

    Then I read your post. I read, “I can’t just watch this happen anymore.”

  21. einhornreise
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:51 AM | Permalink

    I live close to an Austrian train station at the boarder to Germany. Since Germany has lifted some laws, so that refugees can legally enter the country, thousands of people pass the train station, on their way to Germany. Hundreds of locals were/are buying water, fruits, hygienic products,… to help these people. It’s amazing how thankful the refugees are, many cry, and can’t believe that they’re save, as they were treated very badly in other countries, and had to flee under inhuman circumstances (source:

    What I want to say: Thanks Pat & Maria for organising the charity and helping them!

  22. ericturner29
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 9:04 AM | Permalink


    Rany Jazayerli is a doctor of Syrian descent who lives in Chicago(ish). He’s also a damn fine writer who writes about baseball in his spare time. He’s also raising money to provide much needed medical attention for Syrian refugees. You should read his blog about it here:

    And since I’m sure you’re overwhelmed with all of the free time you don’t know how to fill, you should read this thing he wrote too:

    I recommend it very highly.


  23. somandyjo
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for doing to work of finding a good charity to use (you and Maria!). I’ve been wanting to donate to the Syrian refugee cause, and had the same worry.

    It is a sad world sometimes, but then someone comes along and wants to make a difference. He wants to make so much of a difference that he enables other to do it with him. Thank you for being him. Thanks for letting someone like me tag along on your awesome old duster’s coattails.

  24. tigerkat81
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for doing the research on which group can have a direct, positive impact — it’s hard these days, sometimes, to trust/figure out where to give that will actually make a difference. I already liked you as an author after finally starting reading your work a couple weeks ago (lots of lost sleep, well worth it), but it’s always great to discover your favorite authors are also pretty awesome people too.

  25. Posted September 11, 2015 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    Donated! But–the “Share on Facebook” function wasn’t working. It gives a “page not found error”.

  26. Kaeira
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    I read this post and watched the video you posted and it made me cry (I’m in my office at work, so I feel a little self-conscious, but otherwise it’s a good thing). I think that too much we don’t appreciate all of the good in our lives, all of the things that we have. We take it for granted. We don’t realize that something as simple as having a shelter in a freezing cold winter, having food for all our meals, attending school, or even just feeling safe when we walk home at night is something that most people in the world don’t have.

    I would like to say that you are one of the most amazing human beings I know. I suspect that if you had taken all of the profits from your store and your books and spent them on yourself and your family that you would be living in one of those crazy mansions with swimming pools and have enough money to hire chefs and chauffeurs and all of those things that rich people don’t need but they have anyway. But you didn’t. Instead, you spent it on the people who really need it. Not only that, but you use the fame, the media attention you get to promote doing good and helping the people who need it.

    I just don’t think that you get appreciated enough for doing this. So even though you don’t know me and my opinion probably doesn’t mean anything to you, I want to say that I think you are an amazing person. You make me believe that people are good and can do good things. Keep up the good work :)

  27. Rachel
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    I totally relate to your feelings of anger, sadness and frustration. In organizing and mobilizing people to get involved, you not only help people in need of material resources, but you help the rest of us as well. You help us direct that frustration, anger and cynicism about this world, and transform it into love, mercy and peace. I come from a social service background, and there are so many times that the weight of this world’s limitless cruelty was just too oppressive. I wound up leaving my profession out of frustration, thinking that we as a society only pay lip service to our many shortcomings. When I see posts like this, that not only resonate so perfectly, but demonstrate how if we come together we can make significant differences – I am truly humbled and re-focused. Thank you.

    Thank you for all that you do, and for helping make all of us a little bit better!

  28. deborahblake
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    I’ve been looking for the best way to help. Count me in. Also shared on twitter.

  29. Revanche
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    My parents were refugees and the way the world governments are trying to ignore the crisis and not help has had me in rage mode for months. I wish I’d spotted this before I went to bed last night but I’m going to find other ways to double our donation. Speaking for myself, I would never ever have a problem with WorldBuilders supporting a crisis like this instead of Heifers for a while. Keeping people from starving or freezing to death has to have a place as well as long term help.

  30. Michelle M
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    Pat, thank you so much. Like many, I have felt overwhelmed and not sure where to even turn to help. Even if my part is small, I hope it can help to add up to something that makes a difference. Thank you for being a force for good in the world.

  31. Constance
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

    I got paid, so I made sure to donate.

    Pat – you are an awesome human being, a loving father, and a humanitarian. I am glad to know you through a digital media and honored to be part of the Worldbuilders community in this small way.

  32. sandibd
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    Don’t feel bad or strange about putting Worldbuilders behind this cause. I think it fits Worldbuilders perfectly. Agreed, you can’t teach someone to fish when they are freezing. Glad you found a good charity that you know will put the money to good use. Wish I could give more than I did. And don’t worry about this being off the cuff or that there are no rewards. The warm fuzzy everyone gets inside knowing they helped is the only reward they should need.

  33. Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    Thank you so much for doing this. I feel so grateful, today of all days, to be given a nice clear-cut chance to do something more than nothing.

  34. Flarinator
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    Hello Dear, Mr. Rothfuss, I understand you, but I found this little piece to cheer you up a little bit….. maybe .


    Have a nice day.

  35. Nayef
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

    This hit me hard. Not because of anything new, I’ve lived in the Middle East all my life. I am painfully aware of it all. Sometimes I wake up feeling… there is a word in arabic (مكتئب) which doesn’t really translate to english, and it is a combination of depression and hopelessness and frustration. Sometimes I wake up feeling that. And I wish I had a platform to speak, and to help more than I can. I don’t have that much money, I give it away whenever I get it, but it is not even close enough. I don’t think there is an enough.
    Sometimes I read your blog, and I get the same feeling I used to get watching Jon Stewart or Colbert, I feel like a weight is lifted from my chest, that someone is saying what I want to say, that someone is helping.

    I truly thank you.
    I truly thank the worldbuilders team.

    • Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

      “Sometimes I read your blog, and I get the same feeling I used to get watching Jon Stewart or Colbert, I feel like a weight is lifted from my chest, that someone is saying what I want to say, that someone is helping.”

      That’s about the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

  36. Mike Winter
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

    I laughed when I read your 1:28 pm update. “That’s an odd reaction”, you might think. Indeed it is. But to see someone’s generosity piled on like that, so suddenly, so unexpectedly, after the weight of what I had read, and watched, and listened to prior, I couldn’t help but feel a little giddy joy in that moment.

    We’re doing the right thing. I know you know that, but I want to say it anyway. I also want to thank you for enabling it, too, so: Thank you!

    • Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

      I totally understand you. I’ve been laughing a lot today. It’s so nice to feel good about something for a change…

  37. shimbo
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    My OCD could not handle it being 98% so I had to give the last 1400 to meet the goal, hope someone can put them to better use then i ever would have otherwise.

  38. Soph
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

    I’m so glad Worldbuilders became involved in this cause- I trust your judgement in choosing Mercy Corps as a trustworthy charity to donate to. Thankyou for all your hard work in organising this fundraiser.
    And Pat, I admire you as a writer, especially in that you use your talent to help others. Keep on fighting the good fight- there are thousands of others fighting with you.

  39. F.N.T.
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 4:03 AM | Permalink

    I saw thatMost Shocking Second a Day video a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been haunting me ever since. (I came across it when trying to find a way of showing my kids, aged 5 and 7, what’s going on in the world, without freaking them out. I watched the video first. Needless to say, my kids never saw it. They did see their Daddy crying though, and I think that kind of conveyed it all anyway.)

    I’m so ashamed of my country only offering to take 20,000 refugees… by 2020. Help is needed NOW. I never thought I’d wish I was German (not meant in an anti-German way, just in a thought-never-occurred-to-me way) but they’re currently showing the world what brotherhood, what civilization, what humanity means. Just look for footage of regular German people greeting refugees at the border and at train stations, and you’ll see what I mean.

    Something is so seriously broken here and, like many – possibly most – people, I have been searching for a way to help fix it – thank you, Pat and team, for giving us a way to do what little we can to help. Money won’t fix everything that’s wrong here, but it’s what (in my own small way) I can do. I’m proud to be in the same company as the people responding to this call.

  40. Imlekk
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 4:50 AM | Permalink

    Mr. Rothfuss, Maria & co, anonymous donors:

    Thank you. You are awesome.

  41. Sandhya
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 5:41 AM | Permalink

    Every time you have a fund raiser, I spend an embarrassing amount of time refreshing the page so I can watch the number rise! It makes my heart smile. What amazingly beautiful people there are in the universe.

    • Posted September 12, 2015 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

      There’s more than a little refreshing going on at Worldbuilders headquarters, too….

  42. Not_Mandatory
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for once again leveraging your blog to heighten awareness, and for being an all-around awesome human. You are an enabler, Mr. Rothfuss, of imagination and wonder via your writing, and of kindness and humanity through your charitable works. I hope to have the chance to thank you in person on the JoCo 6 cruise.

  43. MerryPopanz
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

    I just wanted to let you know that since I don’t have a credit card, I went elsewhere to donate. But your thoughts still had an effect on me.

  44. Bethany
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    I wanted to say thank you to Rachel. She was readily available at 7PM on a friday, to help resolve the issue I was having to make sure my employer could match my donation. Thank you so much to Worldbuilders and your amazing staff, and to Pat, whose awesomeness cannot be contained in mere words.

  45. MerryPopanz
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 5:47 PM | Permalink

    On the other hand, witch hunts like the one for that camerawoman make me deeply uncomfortable. All the anger and helplessness we feel gets directed towards one person and while she is probably either a horrible person or a person who did something horrible due to panic, she literally doesn’t matter. She’s an idiot who got caught on camera. And she’s not our problem.

    Let’s not be addicted to outrage.

  46. Karim
    Posted September 13, 2015 at 3:46 AM | Permalink

    ” They have nothing. They’re freezing to death. Kids are freezing to death in the snow.”

    Excuse my ensuing rant. There’s a silver lining at the end.

    This is the very real, specific anxiety of being an Arab: the absolute helplessness we endure. Trust me, even escapist fiction doesn’t help.

    I live in Jordan and, last January, seeing it was about to snow, quickly tried to organise getting heaters out, to both Za’atari and Yarmouk camps; blankets; anything, really.*

    Bureaucracy, war, and all the ensuing silliness meant that all my efforts were for nothing. I stayed huddled-up in bed, angry, angry, angry, anxious and watching in slow horror as more news poured in of children dying in Yarmouk, Lebanon, and Za’atari. You can’t help Yarmouk because of the Syrian war and the bureaucracy surrounding Za’atari is. in. fucking. sane. We can’t enjoy the snow anymore because we know it brings death. Even seeing photographs of you and your lovely family out in the snow (or you and your beard), my first reaction is a visceral horror, before reason comes through.

    Despair is prevalent. And though we never stop caring (how else could we despair?) and never stop trying (even when it’s all for nothing), maybe, recently, with the West Bank arson and the boat topping and the awful, stupid shit privileged morons in Europe and the US (e.g. Trump) say about immigrants, I finally, inwardly collapsed. I couldn’t take it.


    It is immensely gratifying to know that you do, that someone with more influence that I have can help. I don’t really believe people are good—how could I, when American foreign policy has contributed so thoroughly to the destruction of every neighbouring state, and for what?—but I believe they can be wonderful.

    This rekindled that fire. I’ll donate. Both here and to local charities.

    I’ll see if I can organise photographic evidence of the camp developing post-donation, I know a few people at the camp. And if you ever come to Amman, I’ll make sure to feed you something fab, or at least recommend a place that feeds something fab.

    Thanks, Pat. From a fan in Jordan.

    * I’ve noticed you hate semi-colons, but I kind of need them to express myself today.

  47. vdevil79
    Posted September 14, 2015 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    Dear Pat,

    Thanks for raising awareness. It is heart breaking that European countries have to make calls on “how many people can absorb”. Can I blame people for not fleeing, to say, Kazakhstan, which is much closer? Given human right conditions and chances for the future, I am not so sure I would make a different decisions then those poor refugees. It’s the middle class that’s fleeing. All of the middle class. Rebuilding the country with all of them having left will be extremely difficult. I don’t see them going back anytime soon.

    And you’re right, anything we can image will probably be much worse than the real situation. So given that, all we can do is look at the different accounts. Here is the account from the Hungarian Camerawoman (now fired) – translated by google translate:

    And here’s the account from the father.

    I am fortunate enough not to have had to endure anything remotely close to this. Let’s not talk right what is clearly wrong. We should get angry over this. But to what extent should we punish the camerawoman? I don’t know to be honest, and something tells me we should not be too quick to judge on what happened, I am not sure how any of us would react in a situation like that in the heat of the moment, and regret what happened for the rest of our lives. I hope I would do better. But am I completely sure I would? To be honest I do not know.

    Overall, it’s a sign the world needs to act and have everyone make a little contribution to avoid more of this happening. Thanks for doing your part.

  48. ThisIsBullshit
    Posted September 14, 2015 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat,

    Totally unrelated topic:

    You hear about this? Any news on the plagiarism in the UK WMF cover art? Who knew — it was Darth Maul all along.

  49. shimbo
    Posted September 22, 2015 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    Good news, the company I work for promised to match my donation!

  50. niru
    Posted October 3, 2015 at 1:24 PM | Permalink


    I only now saw your blog, but I would have loved to have donated. I really admire you and how much you are doing to help people out. I’m a long time fan of your books, and I have wanted to comment on your blog posts before, but I finally created an account so I could do so. You are a wonderful person, and I can’t thank you enough for everything you do, both to help others, and to create incredible worlds and characters that so many of us have fallen in love with.

  51. ztemhead1
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 1:23 PM | Permalink

    Hi Pat, Worldbuilders is not registered under my company’s list of charities for matching donations, but Heifer International is. I gave some money to Heifer just now, and will reach out to Maria to get Worldbuilders added. No real downside to this; it’s free money from a big multinational and their employees.

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