Raising awareness with bobbleheads and burger candles

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Image courtesy Seattle Sounders FC

In efforts to raise awareness — and money — for autism and malaria, a fast food chain and comedian and Major League Soccer (MLS) team owner have signed on for some unique promotional items.

As part of a promotion with the charity Autism Speaks, White Castle — the fast food chain specializing in mini-burgers — is now selling slider-scented candles, the Associated Press reports. The candles, which come in ceramic holders made to resemble cardboard White Castle slider containers, cost $10 each. All proceeds go to Autism Speaks.

As part of a collaboration between the Seattle Sounders FC MLS team and the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign, comedian and team co-owner Drew Carey is hawking collectible bobblehead versions of himself for people who donate $30 or more. Sounders midfielder Sanna Nyassi, who is serving as a co-chair in the fundraising effort, is a native of Gambia and suffered from malaria as a teen. According to the Nothing But Nets web site, in addition to getting a nodding statuette of the former Whose Line Is it Anyway? host, the $30 donation will “cover the cost to buy, distribute, and explain the use of 3 insecticide-treated bed nets, one of the easiest, and most cost-effective ways to prevent malaria in Africa.”

World health officials say that bed net distribution campaigns can reduce malarial deaths among children by 20% — yet much of that success depends on proper use. Earlier this week Sonia Shah of the Los Angeles Times questioned the universal value of nets to help prevent malaria — pointing to figures suggesting that, in some places at least, perhaps as few as half of people given the nets actually use them in the intended manner, sometimes opting instead to use them as “wedding veils or room dividers.” Shah, author of the book The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years, which comes out in July, argues that advocacy efforts should focus on micro-solutions that incorporate the input of people on the ground. Between 350 million to 500 million people contract malaria each year, and more than one million die from it.