How and Why I’m Going Bananas For Elephants

By: John Shepler

I’m turning 65 this June. It’s a big birthday. One that justifies a big celebration. But instead of collecting more stuff (the house is already overflowing), I’ve decided to dedicate my birthday to a personal passion, improving the lives of elephants.
Version 2Elephants are Hurting in Asia
Elephants are hard at work in Asian countries, such as Thailand. Just like people, elephants get sick and injured on the job.Unlike people, there aren’t hospitals and quick care medical centers around every corner. There is one hospital just for elephants, though. This is the Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital in Lampang, Thailand. It’s the world’s first hospital dedicated to treating elephants for as long as they need it. It’s also unique in that the mahouts that work one on one with the elephants are invited to stay at the hospital while their elephant is being cared for, at no charge for mahout or elephant.

It Costs a Lot to Care For Elephants
In my conversations with Soraida Salwala, the founder of the FAE hospital, I learned that just the food to care for the elephants staying at FAE is an expensive proposition. These eles are large and so are their appetites. They consume up to 3 tons per day of grass and bananas, depending on how many patients there are. This includes 1,700 hands of bananas per week that costs about 10,200 Thai Baht or around $340 USD. Grass and Bananas together cost $1,631 per week. And then there’s medicine, doctors, caregivers and facility expenses. All of this has to be provided by generous donations from supporters worldwide.

The Let’s Go Bananas Campaign
I’d love to raise funds that cover all the costs of feeding and  caring for the elephant at FAE, but I thought that a good start would be a campaign that would pay for at least the bananas. Some quick mental math says that one donation of $65 for each day in the month of June would easily cover the cost of the banana deliveries plus a little extra. $65 x 30 days in the month comes out to $1950. That’s a lucky coincidence because 1950 was the year I was born. Seems cosmically ordained, doesn’t it?

How the Fundraiser Works
I’ve set up a fundraiser on CrowdRise to make the process of donating fast and easy. It’s called, as you might suspect, “Going Bananas for Elephants”. I’m asking for $65 from everyone who would like to contribute, but this is not a hard and fast number. If it’s too much, a smaller contribution will also be appreciated. Of course, if you’d like to go bananas too, multiples of $65 will provide even more care for the elephants. The basic idea is to reach or exceed the $1950 goal by the end of June and send the collected funds to Soraida at FAE to support the operation of the hospital. I am going to match the first $650 in donations at the end of the month and add that to the total as a bonus.

You can visit my fundraiser page at https://www.crowdrise.com/goingbananasforelephants or use the CrowdRise widget on this page. Just click on the big orange button that says “Donate to this Fundraiser.” Your name and donation will be added to the rotating honor roll of donors and you can see how close we are coming to the $1950 goal.

Please note that CrowdRise accepts all major credit cards. If you would prefer to contribute via PayPal, contact me and I’ll send you details. If you are planning a large corporate or organizational donation, please contact me in advance to make arrangements (ongoing).

Your Help is Very Important
Think we can do it? Will we meet the fundraising goal of $1950 by the end of the month? Well, your contribution will certainly help and I urge you to go ahead an make it now before you get busy with other things. Another way you can make a big difference is to spread word of this fundraiser far and wide using your social media accounts for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and personal email lists. If you know anyone who is sympathetic to the plight of elephants, please give them the chance to participate. These contributions really will make a difference in the lives of elephants and their mahouts who need the care only Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital can provide.

July 1, 2FundraiserAnnouncement015 Update
The amazing enthusiasm and participation of everyone who supported this fundraiser in June pushed us well past the goal and up to ….. drumroll, please… $3,065, which is over 100, 000 THB at today’s conversion rate.

I’ve sent your contributions on to Soraida at FAE, but I’m leaving the “Go Bananas” fundraiser open for the indefinite future. Why? I know some of you who would like to have donated didn’t hear about the campaign in time or had other commitments that prevented you from making a contribution during the month of June. You are still in luck! CrowdRise will graciously accept your credit card donations and I will send you the PayPal address upon request. Funds collected will be periodically forwarded to Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital in Thailand. Thank you so much for your support!

Finding Money For Elephants: Ibotta Shopping Rebates

By: John Shepler

Have you taken advantage of shopping rebates to make a little extra money? This has always involved mailing in your store receipt with a coupon form that has your name and address. Some weeks or months later you get a small check or a store discount. It’s nice “found” money that you can use to support your favorite cause. Wouldn’t it be great if these rebate opportunities came around more often and didn’t involve a lot of busywork and having to pay for a stamp?

johnsibottaaccountYou’re in luck!
Ibotta has brought the world of shopping rebates into the smartphone era. It’s so easy to use. You simply open the app to see what offers are available (there are lots of them), unlock the rebates you want, scan the product barcode when you shop and then take a photo of your store receipt when you’re done. In usually a few hours, Ibotta has verified your purchases and deposited the rebate money in your account.

Everyday Shopping at Your Favorite Stores
What makes this exciting is that the rebates are for items you are going shopping for anyway. You don’t have to buy stuff you don’t need. Do you use coupons to save at the cash register? That’s another way to get “free” money. The problem is that you have to find the coupons in the first place and then make sure you bring them along to the store. No coupon. No savings. By having everything on your phone, you don’t have to clip or keep track of paper coupons or rebate forms. It’s all done electronically.

How Much Are These Rebates?
They can vary from 25 cents on up to $5 or more per item. That’s comparable with paper coupons and mail-in rebates. You’ll find that your savings mount up quickly because there are so many rebates on things like milk, eggs, cereal, hand soap, paper towels, cookies, juice, even beer. Different stores have different rebates available. Many are for $1 or more.

Now the Most Fun Part: Cashing Out
When you get a balance of $10 or more, you can “cash out.” You simply push the button and your money is sent to your PayPal account almost immediately. You also have the option to redeem for gift cards, if you prefer.

Teamwork Pays Extra
Want more money for no more effort? Join a team and you’ll get bonuses when the you and the team meet a monthly goal. For instance, the April level 1 bonus is $5. You earn an extra $5 when you personally earn $10 in rebates and your team earns $20 in rebates. This is all tracked automatically by the app. You can check your own and your team’s progress any time.

Let’s Team, OK?
How do you join a team? Glad you asked! It’s really pretty easy. If you already have the Ibotta app, then simply connect your Facebook account. All your friends who do the same will be automatically added to each other’s teams.

If you haven’t joined Ibotta yet, then please sign up through my personal Ibotta link. Make sure you see the code: rpgfyue in the referral box so we’ll be teammates. You’ll be able to set up your account in a couple of minutes and get a link to the free Ibotta app for your iPhone or Android smartphone. Join using the Facebook option and you’ll automatically have friends with Ibotta accounts added to your team.

Helping Elephants
I really like this application because it doesn’t cost me anything, just a little extra effort when shopping, and you get a substantial amount of rebate money. As you can see by screenshot image, I have earned over $22 in a little over a month. My wife and teammate, Barbara, has over $61 in rebate earnings.

We’ve committed to using our Ibotta rebates to support the FAE Hospital in Thailand and have already used Ibotta cash for a contribution to Nancy Nortell’s “Help Asian Elephants Get Medical Treatment” fundraiser on CrowdRise. If you are not already one of the FAE supporters on Facebook, you’re invited to come and join us.

Help Make the Movie, “Gods in Shackles”

Sangita Iyer, an award winning journalist and nature & wildlife documentary film maker, is on a mission to free elephants in India from their shackles. Her vehicle is a dramatic movie now in production called “Gods in Shackles.”

Elephant leg wound.The title is literally the problem. Temple elephants suffer deep leg wounds from the iron shackles that keep them bound so they can be used in lavish parades and celebrations. While the people attending the festivities may wonder at the beauty of these brightly decorated animals, the elephants themselves are often in pain. 

Sangita wants to help relieve the suffering of by improving the living conditions of elephants throughout India. This dramatic presentation can be the catalyst in raising awareness among the public to demand that elephants receive better treatment. As you might expect, such an undertaking is not cheap. Even with experts donating their time, tens of thousands of dollars are needed to finish the pos-production phase and get the moving into public release.

One means of doing that is through the Gods in Shackles campaign on Indiegogo. As a contributor at any level, you have the opportunity to support this important project and garner a valuable thank-you gift for yourself. One piece in particular is very special. That is an actual chain link from a previously shackled elephant, now released. It’s yours at the $75 contribution level. Many other desirable premiums are also available starting as little as $5.

Won’t you help? Just to give you an idea of what you’ll see in the movie, here is a 5 minute preview:

Buy or Bid on Mango Wood Elephant to Benefit FAE

Mango Wood Elephant #2 available for purchase or bid on eBay.Here’s your opportunity to own a large hand-carved mango wood elephant crafted in Thailand. There’s actually an entire herd of these gorgeous elephant figures, but they are finding homes fast and will only be available to adopt for a short time. The elephant shown in this photo is called #2. She weighs 3 lbs and is 9 inches tall. The beautiful mango wood gets darker as finish is applied. Right now, #2 has only a light application of clear oil.

You can bid on this wonderful carved elephant right now. Don’t dawdle… the first bid has already been received. This eBay auction ends next Monday (Feb 2) at about 4 PM. After that you’ll likely be out of luck.

Not only will you be acquiring a unique work of hand crafted art, but you’ll also be helping to support a real elephant hospital in Thailand. Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital treats sick and injured elephants at no cost to their owners and depends on donations from caring people worldwide. Jody Stickney is donating 100% of this sale to FAE, so your money will go far… and you’ll have a valuable elephant too!

You can visit the eBay auction for elephant #2 and see pictures of the other available eles right now. Hurry, she could find a new home at any moment.

Note: 2/5 update. I’m happy to say that I’m the proud winner of the auction for elephant #2 (shown above) She should arrive in the next few days. Don’t worry if you’ve missed out on any of the auctions to date. There are more eBay auctions in progress right now to benefit FAE

Our Design Store is Open For Business

A main goal of our Loves Elephants site is to encourage donations to worthy elephant rescue and conservation organizations, and to generate revenue that we can contribute ourselves. It’s always fun when you can do a good deed and get something you’d like for yourself at the same time. Here’s your opportunity.

Wispy Cloud Elephants Throw PillowOur new design store is now open for business. What will you find there? It’s an eclectic collection of elephant related products based on our own designs. For instance, do you like our graphic of two elephants at sunset? Would you like a mousepad, button, puzzle, license plate or cosmetic bag with this picture? How about this comfy pillow with all the white little elephants among the wispy clouds? Yes, they’re all available.

You’ll find a sampling of our latest designs at the “Design” tab in this site’s navigation bar above. There are more, many more, available at For Elephant’s Sake. That’s our Zazzle shop. What’s Zazzle? It’s  an exciting place to shop and to create your own custom products. You simply supply the creative content, such as photos or artwork, and you can make everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs to holiday ornaments, pillows, plates and much more.

For every item we sell, Zazzle pays us a small commission. We use this income to support elephant charities worldwide. You can sign up with Zazzle and create your product store to support yourself or causes that you consider important. What’s more, you can promote anybody else’s designs on your website, blog or social media site and you’ll receive a referral fee from Zazzle if someone buys that product through your link. We would be honored if you’d promote our products for our mutual benefit. In the future, we may also feature elephant related designs by other talented artists.

Bid on Sparkle to Benefit FAE

Sparkle elephant at homeYou’ll love to have this gorgeous glowing Gemmy Sparkle Elephant in your home or, if you can, set her outside for the holidays. She’s nearly baby elephant size, measuring 39 in. tall to the tip of her upraised trunk and approx. 40 in. long from trunk tip to tail. Sparkle glows an elegant gold color lit by 70 LED lights that are pre-wired and is standing on a red ball that flashes.

Sparkle is being auctioned on eBay as a fundraiser for Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital in Thailand, the world’s first hospital just for elephants. Since 1993, they’ve treated more than 3,600 elephants for everything from minor injuries and illness to pregnancy & maternity up to elephants who have even lost a leg stepping on a land mine. They are entirely supported by private donation. So please be generous with your bids. 100% of the winning sales price will be donated to FAE.

Now, you must hurry to place your bid because the auction is already in progress and will end on Monday, January 12 at 8 PM Central Time. View the eBay auction and place your bid now. Good luck!

Update: January 13, 2014: Congratulations to Jody Stickney for having the winning bid on Sparkle the elephant. Thanks to everyone else who participated in making this fundraiser a winner for FAE.