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Sargent House Records Set Up Goals in Haiti Fundraising

Sargent HouseWe’ve all seen the images displayed from the tragedy in Haiti: survivors grabbing press crew hoping they are actually doctors while still, even now, news of people being pulled from the blankets of rumble still comes through every day.

“My reaction is that of a human being. It wouldn’t matter what country it happened in I think it’s terrible.” Sargent House Records founder Cathy Pellow told Noisecreep of her thoughts in the aftermath of the earthquake. “Damn. People think they have it bad, imagine starting at negative 100 and then having your entire country decimated. They started with a lack of medical care.”

With a label that is far from being another close to a major, she couldn’t just donate a lump of money to help in this time of need like she wish she could. “All my bands are real humanitarian oriented, so it was a real no-brainer really,” says Pellow.

When the question came up of how to raise money, she decided to take the $5 digital holiday sampler that highlighted Sargent artist and those from the imprint label of guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López of the Mars Volta, and just make all the proceeds go to three different charities. Needless to say, the bands were behind this.

“I think everything we can do to draw attention to how important it is for people to realize in time of total desperation maybe don’t have that Starbucks coffee and spend that $5 and contribute towards something,” says Pellow. “If it takes being able to trade something in order to do that, whatever gets the job done.”

The label set up three goals with their donations, each with $500 going to a different charity: Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, and the Red Cross. “Those are three places we know that are legitimate, honest and do provide — not just in Haiti — but whenever there is a disaster or suffering.”

The compilation itself holds only one rare track, a vinyl-only song from These Arms Are Snakes, but people have gotten behind this underground fundraising. “It’s no different than starting to promote an album or a band people haven’t heard of yet. You tweet it, people re-tweet it, you Facebook it; you start to spread the word. It was really nice to see some blogs and sites pick up on the fact that we were doing it.” Each goal met has felt like a rally that people are getting behind in a collective way, rather than just sending some money and going back to the business of a first world life.

At time of interview the donation level had reached well beyond the second goal, but by now the third goal of money to the Red Cross should have been met. We asked Pellow if she plans to do more fundraising after this; there is no question about that, as she talks to all her bands about getting behind non-profits they believe in. “My conversation with our bands about charity is, ‘Pick the one you’re really passionate about,’” she relayed. “Focus on trying to contribute to that and make effective decisions so your benefiting something versus every random, ‘Oh, we’re doing a benefit for this, this and this.’”

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