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January 25, 2004

LotR Fans Create Charitable Fellowship

Following in the footsteps of their literary and on-screen heroes and idols, on January 22, 2004, a group of Lord of the Rings (LOTR) fans kick off the ROTK Challenge, a year-long drive calling on all LOTR fans and others to increase their charitable donations and volunteer more of their time in their communities. The launch of this program follows on the heels of the worldwide release of New Line Cinema’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The major focus of the challenge is to promote the values that J.R.R. Tolkien prized so highly – ecology, literacy and assistance to others in need. This will be accomplished by asking LOTR fans worldwide to make charitable contributions that are equivalent to (or greater than) the number of hours they spend in the theatres, or the dollar amount that they spend on movie tickets or LOTR-related merchandise. These contributions can be in the form of monetary donations or volunteered time.

Rachel Wangen-Hoch, Director of the ROTK Challenge states the goals of the Challenge simply. “To celebrate the release of The Return of the King, we hope to create a remarkable and unprecedented surge in giving by LOTR fans. Tolkien fans are a generous group and we’re hoping that their generosity and enthusiasm can make a true difference in the world.”

As part of setting up The Challenge, the group has selected three official international charities to which participants can donate. But participants do not have to donate to or volunteer for these charities alone. A Challenge participant can select a charity or organization in their community that embodies the values that Tolkien held in high esteem. The three official charities are:

The Nature Conservancy –
The Nature Conservancy is an organization dedicated to protecting the world’s lands, water, animal and plant life through a science-based planning process called Conservation by Design. This process helps them determine the highest priority areas that if conserved, promise to ensure biodiversity in the long run. Their world-wide efforts currently protect more than 116 million acres across the globe.

Doctors Without Borders –
Doctors Without Borders is an organization initially started by the French, but was taken up by countries around the world as an organization and effort that demanded support. Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian aid organization that provides emergency medical assistance to populations in danger in more than 80 countries.

ProLiteracy Worldwide –
Through the assistance provided by Proliteracy Worldwide, many adults who were once functionally illiterate have acquired the literacy skills they need to function more effectively in their daily lives and participate in changing their societies. This organization provides a variety of programs to help individuals develop the skills required and maintain their newly found literacy throughout their lives.

The ROTK Challenge asks that anyone participating in this event visit the official website,, learn more about the program and register their participation. As a registered participant, each individual will be able to log their donations and volunteer hours and watch as the overall total climbs. All donations are to be made through the official channels as stated by the individual charities and organizations. Participants are also encouraged to create their own fund raising or volunteer projects and submit their plan to the ROTK Challenge staff. During the year they are asked to document their activities, both written and pictorially, and submit the final project for review.

As a wrap up to the ROTK Challenge, there will be an award ceremony in 2005, honoring those individuals who have shown the most creativity and/or dedication to the ideals revered by J.R.R. Tolkien. Categories are broken up by both type of activity, number of participants and age group.

Please see the ROTK Challenge website or contact Rachel Wangen-Hoch for additional details.

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