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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Short White Coat: Race for the Snacks

Short White Coat is a blog written by second-year Harvard medical student Ishani Ganguli. Ishani's posts appear here, as part of White Coat Notes. E-mail Ishani at shortwhitecoat@gmail.com.

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For the past few weeks, Iíve been living off the bounty of my "altruism": Coffee, yogurt, energy bars, and soymilk from Bostonís Race for the Cure, t-shirts and fruit roll-ups from the Harvard University-wide Day of Service, and a little musical and comedic nourishment for the soul at the Boston 826 community writing center fund-raiser.

In Boston, thereís no dearth of do-good opportunities -- medical or otherwise -- and they come with more than a fair share of Free Stuff.

The Office cleverly and hilariously addressed the pageantry of charity events in its season premiere last Thursday, which featured the Michael Scott Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Fun Run Race for the Cure. Michael Scott, the ever-fumbling head honcho, urges his workers to support the rabid in a convoluted attempt to allay his guilt for hitting an employee with his car. The $700 the office raises for the spurious cause is quickly eaten up by the cost of creating a giant check (made out to ďScienceĒ) and hiring a stripper nurse to accept this check (because rabies doctors are unwilling to travel to Scranton, PA, as well as nonexistent). The perks of racing for an already existent cure? T-shirts, water, and of course, an overwhelming sense of moral contentment.

Iím getting better at rationalizing the guilt that comes with the glee of collecting charity booty. Thereís good reason for the perks -- pre-race bagels at Race for the Cure made the 5K run just a bit smoother, while spray-on pink ribbon tattoos raised awareness for the cause (at least the ones placed visibly). As for the companies donating the goods or musical acts the talent, they get good publicity out of the deal.

Iíve also been thinking more carefully about how I choose my causes. Iím happy to say that the goody bag factor is low on the list. But as a debt-ridden medical student, Iím happy to take my snacks where I can get them.

Posted by Ishani Ganguli at 03:36 PM
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