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Fundraiser who helped U.S. bus monitor to launch new anti-bullying campaign

In this video image taken from AP video, bus monitor Karen Klein speaks during an interview in Greece, N.Y. A video of four seventh-grade boys mercilessly taunting the 68-year-old Klein that went viral has turned the victim into an international fundraising juggernaut and opened her tormentors to an onslaught of threats and abuse.


Fresh off the runaway success of his fundraiser for a bullied school U.S. bus monitor, Torontonian Max Sidorov is launching a new campaign, trying to raise $7-million.

The money would be ploughed into anti-bullying programs, a non-profit television series focused on selfless acts of love and an intriguing idea for matching would-be volunteers with those who have needs.

Mr. Sidorov believes that the fundraiser – which launches just before midnight on Tuesday – will be the largest crowd-funded project in history.

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"This is not just going to be another awareness issue, everyone knows bullying is bad, we're going to direct the money to things that we know that can help kids who have been bullied," he said recently.

The fundraiser follows on the success of one Mr. Sidorov started for Karen Klein, whose abuse by children on a school bus in upstate New York was videotaped and posted on the Internet. Aimed at $5,000 – enough to give her a vacation away from the stresses of work – the campaign quickly went far beyond that. When the 30-day fundraiser ended last week, the total stood at more than $700,000.

The new fundraiser – dubbed 7 Million Acts of Love – hopes to generate several years worth of operating capital for three main projects.

The first will offer counselling and programs to both the victims and perpetrators of bullying. The second will be a television series called "Love is Moving," which will feature people showing selfless love to others and to the planet. Finally, the money will help develop a social platform and non-profit organization called LoveDeeder, designed to offer options for people who want to help.

Mr. Sidorov explained that the third element could be used by individuals or organizations. Those who require assistance would post the details about their needs. Volunteers could peruse the information, almost like a match-making service, before deciding where they can help. "People doing kind acts for free," was how he described it.

That was his motivation in starting the fundraiser for Ms. Klein. He set up a page online, linked to the video of her abuse and let donors to the rest. The campaign became a media sensation. The video, watched by hundreds of thousands, inspired outrage and an avalanche of donations.

Ms. Klein said Monday from Greece, NY, that she was to meet with human resources officials from the town, unsure whether she would continue with her job. She had plans to do some travelling with her family and will donate to local causes affecting her family. She hoped the fading of her celebrity would stop the strange requests for money that have been flooding in.

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"One guy wanted me to pay his house off – he owed $125,000 – and he was going to put $300 a month into my favourite charity to pay me back," she marvelled.

Although the month has been "surreal," she wanted to thank all of those who contributed. And she praised Mr. Sidorov's "really good" new project.

Mr. Sidorov said that the first campaign touched a nerve that showed how prevalent in society bullying is, and why more needs to be done.

"It can happen to elderly ladies, it can happen to kids, it can happened at work," he said. "People are realizing it's a much more serious issue than we even know."

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About the Author

Oliver Moore joined the Globe and Mail's web newsroom in 2000 as an editor and then moved into reporting. A native Torontonian, he served four years as Atlantic Bureau Chief and has worked also in Afghanistan, Grenada, France, Spain and the United States. More


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