HoHoTO is a Holiday party to raise sorely-needed funds for Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank.
More than that, you might say HoHoTO has become a hyper-connected social media movement and a remarkable example of the power of self-organizing online groups.
Late in 2008, a group of friends started talking on Twitter about the plight of the hungry in Toronto. The idea for HoHoTO grew organically out of this discussion, fuelled by a shared belief among a relatively small group of like-minded people.
Using Twitter, Facebook, email, and our collected networks of close friends and loose ties, we kicked off a process that lit up the tweetstreams and blogvines; quickly turning a much, much bigger group of people on to the same core idea:
That people in our own town are hungry – dammit – and we can make a difference.
The result, that first year, was an extraordinary party attended by more than 600 enthusiastic people from the local tech, media, digital marketing, social media and PR communities. The whole thing was organized in less than 20 days, sold out in nine, and went on to astonish all of us involved as we watched something bigger than we’d ever dreamed take shape before our eyes.
Along the way, we’ve received messages of support from the likes of Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, BoingBoing co-founder Cory Doctorow and many others. We’ve called in the troops (the 48th Highlanders) to help us deliver the donated food to Daily Bread so that their regular resources would not be redirected by our last-minute event. We’ve been cited as an example of social action by Queen Rania of Jordan and referenced as a case study in business books.
Now an annual event, “the party that Twitter built” has raised more than $225,000 and collected around four tons of food for hungry Torontonians to date.
And that’s the real heart of it. Not to get all glum and earnest on you, but HoHoTO is – and always has been – about helping feed people:
- In Toronto, people just like you made more than a million visits to food banks last year.
- Food bank use is growing – up 18% nationally in 2012 over 2008.
- More than 30% of the people relying on food banks in the GTA are children
- The median monthly household income in Toronto is only $691.
Hunger in the GTA is a result of lack of money, not lack of food. And that’s why HoHoTO was created — to help the Daily Bread Food Bank with desperately needed funds.
In short, HoHoTO is one of the best ways to help hungry people in Toronto, and it’s the best Holiday party you’ve ever been to.