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by Abigail Van Buren

People Who Are in Need Can Get Help on the Net

DEAR ABBY: It seems that everyone is aware that there is a dark side to the Internet, but I would like to let you know about another side of it.

There are many ongoing charity projects on the Internet, like the Linus Project and the ABC Quilts, which provide quilts for children with AIDS.

After the Oklahoma City bombing and again after the recent California fires, the chat rooms and newsgroups were full of people offering various kinds of help. Quilts were made honoring the children who died in Oklahoma, and supplies were shipped to Californians who lost their homes.

A man called Magic Mike who has access to scraps from a fabric factory now sends those scraps to quilters across the country who craft for charities, for the price of the postage. He is not only reducing the size of landfills (where the scraps would otherwise go), but he is also providing very low-cost supplies to charities that need them.

There are whole communities of people on the Internet who have never met face-to-face or spoken on the telephone, but are ready, willing and able to act whenever a call for help is transmitted.

The Internet has more caring people than it has the bad seeds we read about in the paper. It's time to turn the spotlight away from the few who are giving it a bad name and shine it on those who are quietly making this a better world through their use of this Information Age tool. -- LESA FARMER, KANSAS CITY, KAN.

DEAR LESA: Your letter is very timely, and I am pleased to help highlight the good side of the Internet.

The Internet provides millions of people with access to the information superhighway, an electronic assortment of resources, information and communication. Today's computers make navigating the Internet so easy that almost anyone can do it, and the cost is becoming more reasonable every day.

People communicate with one another through newsgroups, mailing lists, e-mail and chat areas, where they can ask for and receive information, share experiences, and access worldwide resources on virtually any topic.

DEAR ABBY: In a recent column (I've lost the clipping, so I can't give you the woman's "nom-de-gripe") a woman complained that her son and daughter-in-law refused to have children, thus depriving her of her RIGHTFUL grandchildren. And, although she didn't specify it, her qualifcation of the family background -- doctors, lawyers, college professors, etc. -- indicated that she perceived it to be her son's duty to contribute to and further the family's illustrious gene pool.

It reminded me of the story of the scion of a "proper" Bostonian family who applied for a position at a Wall Street banking firm. A letter from one of his references said:

"I would wholeheartedly recommend this young man to your firm. His father, a Harvard graduate, descends from a line of Pilgrim forebears whose family tree includes several Astors and Cabots. His mother, a Wellesley alumna, is a descendant of a Daughter of the American Revolution and also claims kinship to the Lodges. His grandfather was president of Harvard, and a great-uncle was ambassador to the Court of St. James."

To which the would-be employer replied:

"Thank you for your glowing recommendation. Unfortunately, we intended to utilize him in the brokerage business, not for breeding." -- JAMES A. ABLE JR., THE TAMPA GRAMPA

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