Selected earlier this month to be the first-ever charity partner for the annual New Year's Eve celebration in New York City's Times Square, the International Rescue Committee hopes to leverage the event to raise awareness of the plight of displaced people around the world.
IRC president and CEO David Miliband, among others, will push the Waterford Crystal button signaling the lowering of the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball at 11:59 p.m. and lead revelers in the final countdown to 2015. "As a time to celebrate new beginnings and embrace the challenges for the year ahead," said Milliband, "the IRC, together with its partners, looks forward to kicking off 2015 with a renewed commitment to helping people whose lives and livelihoods have been shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future."
More than fifty million people around the globe were displaced from their homes in 2014, making it one of the worst years for refugees since World War II. To address the crisis, IRC is urging the humanitarian community to adopt a collaborative approach in 2015 to protect vulnerable communities as well as the people who serve them. The organization also is building a social media campaign around the Times Square celebration, encouraging people to post selfies on social networking sites along with their commitment to making 2015 a better year accompanied by the hashtag "#HeresToHumanity." Some of the images will be selected to appear on billboards around Times Square during the last week of the month and on New Year's Day.
"The potential for people to click through is huge," Colleen Ryan, the organization's vice president of communications, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. While none of the activities its involved in will include a request for donations, Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins and Countdown Entertainment president Jeff Straus said the extra visibility should lead to increased volunteerism and monetary support for the organization.
"New Year's Eve is the perfect time to pause and think of the year ahead," said Ryan. In the midst of terrible conflicts, "we see incredible hope, resilience, and fortitude that should be celebrated, and that is what this partnership is all about."