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This weekend, the Christian humanitarian organization World Vision will put on its 20th “30 Hour Famine,” a biannual youth fasting event aimed at raising awareness and money for hungry families around the globe.

Participants were asked to raise money prior to the event, and today, they will begin fasting to get a glimpse at what it is like to live in hunger. For 30 hours, they are allowed to ingest only juice and water. Weekend events will also include group activities, community service projects, and prayer, as in previous years.

But this year’s program features one new component: social media. Because a majority of the participants use the Internet to communicate, World Vision will do a “homepage takeover,” where teen fundraisers will post to various social media sites to keep the cyber world up to date on their activities during the weekend.

All tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, YouTube videos and more will be published on the organization’s website. The site also has a “social feed,” provided by FeedMagnet, which aggregates all tweets that include “#30hf” or “#30hourfamine.”

“They’re tweeting about their experience the whole time; they’re posting on Facebook what it feels like to get a taste of hunger; and they’re sharing it visually through Instagram,” said Hilary Hilpert, 30 Hour Famine’s social media community manager. “This morning, a girl shared a photo of a banner she created. It was decorated with 20,000 hand-drawn stick figures — one for each child under the age of five who died within the last 24 hours from hunger-related illnesses. That’s powerful.”

According to a recent study conducted by World Vision, 80 percent of teenagers use social media, and nearly half of those teens said they have become more aware of the needs of others as a result of their social media use.

The study also found that girls are more likely to use social media to support charity organizations than boys. While 41 percent of females said they “friend,” “like,” or “follow,” a charity group online, only 27 percent of males said they do the same.

Hilpert said social media has also catalyzed online fundraising. So far, $250,000 has been raised by students online. Last year, the organization raised $10.4 million, and this year’s goal is $11 million. Funds go toward fighting poverty in Haiti, several African countries, and the United States.

We’re thrilled that through the Famine, these students not only are raising money to fight global hunger, but they’re using their social influence to help them get there,” Hilpert said. “The homepage takeover is just another way for parents, leaders, students, everyone, to be part of this important conversation about global justice.”

The next 30 Hour Famine will take place April 26-27.

Previously on GeekWire: ‘Change My School’ raises money for schools with monthly video contests

Reach Lily Katz at or on Twitter @LilyKatz

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