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‘Fifty Shades’ Author Helps Student Raise $70K

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KENT, Ohio -- When Japan was hit by a tsunami in 2011, Kent State University student Alexandria Rhodes turned to Twitter for updates.

But rather than just watch the disaster unfold from afar, she went a step further by getting involved.

And a goal to raise $5,000 for the victims transformed into a social media team fundraising effort involving the likes of “Fifty Shades of Grey” author E.L. James.

The result was nearly $70,000 in just three months.

“To see the power of social media in action during such a tragic time was so powerful, and so I wanted to see how I could help victims myself,” said Rhodes, a senior English major from Tallmadge.

Rhodes and three friends used Twitter, Facebook and blogs to reach authors and celebrities. They were asked to contribute their work for a compilation given to donors of at least $10.

James was just one of 218 authors who donated toward 250 stories. The campaign got the attention of other renowned authors like J.M., who wrote “Sempre.”

More than 1,500 people donated funds to support the cause.

“People would do anything to have an exclusive piece of writing from their favorite story or author," said Rhodes.

Rhodes and her friends had more than 1,000 Twitter followers in just two months of launching the campaign.

“We did a lot of tweeting and asked people to help re-tweet,” said Rhodes. “We affiliated with a few websites, mostly fan sites with a large following, and they would post every few days about our fundraiser.”

The money donated went to the tsunami relief fund set up by the Red Cross.

Rhodes is already working on another similar effort called To Write Love on Her Arms, a suicide prevention awareness organization.

“I get a good feeling anytime I’m able to help people who are less fortunate than I am,” said Rhodes.

To read a blog on the effort or to donate to the tsunami fund, click here.

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