You know you’re at an interesting juncture in life when you spin out of the revolving doors of the St. Regis — an elegant hotel on 5th Ave. & 55th — carrying a white malaria net. 

This morning, I had the privilege of volunteering at New York Women in Communications’ Gratitude Breakfast. The guest speaker this year was author/broadcast journalist Deborah Norville and her publicist, Donna Dees, founder of the Million Mom March.

At the end of Ms. Dees’ remarks, she said that she would donate $5,000 to the scholarship fund if scholarship winners would help her spread the word about malaria nets for kids in Africa. I gasped. Sign me up! I HAD to go meet this woman after the breakfast.

When I told her I was going to Liberia, she handed me a bed net to bring to a child who needs it. Did you know a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds in Africa?! Malaria is the leading killer of African children under 5. I’ll be safe from this disease that mosquitoes carry because I’ll be taking antimalarial drugs. But these kids don’t have that luxury. While people search for a vaccine and work to make these drugs widely available, bed nets are the best temporary solution. 

bed netHow did Ms. Dees, who did more than her fair share of good will campaigning for safer gun laws with a million moms, add African issues to her plate? Her 12-year-old daughter, who learned about the organization Malaria No More from American Idol‘s “Giving Back” special, asked her publicist mom to chip in. This holiday, Phoebe urges you to donate $10 bed nets in the name of a family member or friend, who will receive an e-card acknowledgement.

Ms. Norville, who wrote a book called Thank You Power, spoke at the breakfast about acknowledging what you’re grateful for every day. Today, I’m grateful for the innocence and optimism of 12-year-olds, who remind us skeptical adults that we can change the world with netting. And I’m grateful for the woman who thought to carry malaria bed nets with her, on the 0.00001 % chance that someone in the fancy schmantzy St. Regis would actually be able to hand-deliver it to Africa.

Click here to send a holiday/New Year/birthday e-card to someone, letting them know you’ve purchased bed nets in their name.

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