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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you've done the ice bucket challenge, it's probably because another person nominated you to do it. And maybe you did it out of the goodness of your heart, or maybe you did it because you didn't want to shell out $100 to charity.

There's no doubt that the viral trend has raised millions of dollars and an immeasurable amount of awareness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, but it's also becoming clear that peer-pressure is a growing part of charity –- especially in the age of social media. Facebook friends post links to Kickstarter and CaringBridge pages, urging each other to donate to the latest cause, or give a few bucks to a family impacted by tragedy.
In general, that's a good thing.

"It's a call to do something," Eugene Tempel, dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, told ABC News. "That's been demonstrated in the past to be effective, in getting people together and getting people organized, responding to a cause."

He cited the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti as an example.

"People posted that they had texted a number to donate, and asked others to do it," he said.

Tempel called the ice bucket challenge an "unbelievable phenomenon." Sure, participants might feel some obligation after a pal nominates them to complete the challenge, but because the requests aren't face-to-face, living only in the bubble of social media, it's not really a negative form of peer pressure, he said.

"It's all in great fun, so that makes it very different from someone contributing because they feel like they don't have an alternative," Tempel said. "I think a person who doesn't want to respond can simply not respond."

That doesn't mean peer pressure isn't the trigger that leads to some donations or charitable acts.

In many cases, it is, as anyone who has gotten an email from a friend asking for contributions to their marathon fund for charity can understand. And it's hard to say no to someone's request if everyone on Facebook is on the chain. And many have expressed support for a Florida man who deliberately scuttled another Starkbucks "pay it forward" line in St. Petersburg.

A little push is OK, but when severe peer pressure -- begging someone to donate face-to-face, for example -- is involved, it ruins philanthropy, Tempel said.

"If people feel like they're put in a place where they can't decide yes or no freely, they will resent that," he said. "And in the long run, that is not good for philanthropy."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Very heavy rain across parts of the Midwest early this morning sparked off flash flooding from northern Illinois to Indiana.

Cars on local highways in Blackford County, Indiana, had to be abandoned as rapidly rising waters washed out roads, authorities said.

If flooding was not enough, a house caught on fire in Hartford City, Indiana, forcing local firefighters to fight the blaze from boats.

The most intense rain fell during the early morning hours Friday morning. However, dramatic weather has swept through the region for the past 24 hours, yielding significant rainfall totals. The heavy rain hit the Chicago area first, then tracked farther south and east, heading into northern Indiana.

Over the past 24 hours, Chicago's Midway Airport recorded over 4 inches of rain. Just a few miles away, Burbank, Illinois, logged over 5.5" of rainfall.

The intense band of rain continued southeast into northern Indiana, dropping from 4 to 6 inches of precipitation. Hartford City, Indiana, was hit especially hard, receiving 8 to 10 inches of rain within the past 24 hours. The highest rainfall total observed so far was five miles northwest of Hartford City, receiving 10.63 inches of rain.

This extremely heavy rainfall was sparked off by a stationary front sitting across the Midwest. It was a setup for heavy rain to develop and slowly move over the same locations for several hours.

Flash flooding will remain a concern throughout the upcoming weekend as scattered thunderstorms could contain locally heavy downpours and impact already saturated areas.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal authorities Friday urged law enforcement across the country to be alert for possible attacks inside the United States in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic group ISIS, the brutal terrorist group that beheaded American journalist James Foley and has seized vast swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

In a joint bulletin issued to local, state and federal law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI said that while they are "unaware of any specific, credible threats against the Homeland" and find direct threats from ISIS "not credible," they cannot rule out attacks in the U.S. from sympathizers radicalized by the group's online propaganda.

"[B]ecause of the individualized nature of the radicalization process -- it is difficult to predict triggers that will contribute to [homegrown violent extremists] attempting acts of violence," the bulletin states. Moreover, such lone offenders "present law enforcement with limited opportunities to detect and disrupt plots, which frequently involve simple plotting against targets of opportunity," according to the bulletin.

The group is known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL and recently changed its name to the Islamic State, claiming it has formed an Islamic caliphate in the areas of Syria and Iraq that it controls.

The beheading of Foley was in retaliation for U.S. air attacks on ISIS fighters, according to a statement from the group. ISIS is holding at least one other American journalist, Steven Soltoff, and is threatening to kill him.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The ice bucket challenge might have finally reached its tipping point.

The viral trend to raise awareness for ALS by dumping frigid water on your head has become a Halloween costume.

For $39.99, you'll get what looks like a shower curtain attached to an upside-down, blue bucket and an empty ice cube tray.

"We've received lots of interest in this, but it's still a work in progress," said a spokesperson from brandsonSale, the online retailer that introduced the costume on Friday.

The ice bucket challenge, in which people nominate each other to douse themselves in ice-cold water or else donate $100 to an ALS charity, has blown up in recent weeks. Even professional athletes and celebrities are in on the action –- LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift have all completed the challenge.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStock/Thinkstock(MERCED, Calif.) -- A couple carrying swaddled dolls they treated like real babies tried to sneak into the maternity ward of a northern California hospital, authorities said.

Mercy Medical Center in Merced alerted police and other area hospitals after the couple made two attempts to get past security and into its family birth center, once on Saturday and again on Monday, hospital spokesman Robert McLaughlin told ABC News on Friday. Both were carrying dolls.

"They acted like they were real," he said. "They hold them and hug them and change their diapers. It’s very odd."

The Merced Police Department has identified the couple and is investigating, but said there are no criminal charges.

"It's not illegal to have a fake baby," McLaughlin said.

A security guard suspicious of the couple's intentions asked to take photos of them, which helped police track them down, he added.

The man and woman were first seen in the hospital’s emergency room on Saturday, McLaughlin said. The man was treated for an injury, and then the couple stayed in the hospital and went to the second floor, where the family birth center is located, he said.

"They said they had an appointment with an educator or something, which wasn’t true," McLaughlin said.

The woman was wearing hospital scrubs and carrying an outdated business card of the center’s director, he added, noting that staffers from each floor of the hospital wear a designated color, so employees immediately knew that the woman didn’t work there.

A security guard prevented the couple from getting inside the family birth center, McLaughlin said, adding that "everyone was safe."

It’s not clear why the couple wanted access to the area. The investigation is ongoing, police said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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