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Donation News

The Weeknd Donates $1 Million to Ethiopia

The world’s journalists haven’t been allowed into Tigray, a large region in the north of Ethiopia, in years. Most of the world wouldn’t recognize the name. But the area has been under siege by Ethiopia’s military. There have been reports that since a spat of fighting in November between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the military under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, no farming or imports of food have been allowed, stores have been destroyed, and access to water and medical supplies has been denied.

In March, a graphic video surfaced. While the contents are officially unverified, many have identified the area as Mahibere Dego, a town in the mountainous heart of Tigray. In the video, armed soldiers round up a large group of young unarmed men on a rocky ledge, execute them with gunfire, and then fling them off the hillside. The soldiers can be heard laughing at their grim duty and cheering each other on. It is just one of several reported massacres in the area, though verification is rare.

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, the Canadian songwriter, record producer, and son of Ethiopian parents–known most widely as The Weeknd– announced on Sunday, April 4, that he would be donating $1 million toward relief efforts for the Tigray region.

“My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia,” he posted on Instagram, “as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are displaced out of fear and destruction. I will be donating $1 million to provide 2 million meals through the United Nations World Food Programme and encourage those who can to please give as well.”

The Weeknd is no stranger to philanthropy. Since March 2020, he has also donated $1 million to COVID-19 relief, $500,000 to Black Lives Matter, and $300,000 to Global Aid for Lebanon after the explosion in Beirut.

Editorial credit: Phil Pasquini / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Xiao Zhen Xie: Don’t Submit to Racism

On March 17, while waiting for a traffic light on foot, Xiao Zhen Xie was punched in the face by Steven Jenkins in San Francisco. It was Jenkin’s second assault on an Asian senior citizen in a matter of minutes – first, he punched 83-year-old Ngoc Pham, then 75-year-old Xie. She was badly hurt, but she managed to grab a board and smack her attacker in the mouth, who was then restrained by security guards until the police arrived.

Xiao Zhen Xie, who is a grandmother, a diabetic, and a cancer survivor, was left with two black eyes that swelled shut and a facial wound that bled uncontrollably. Her grandson, John Chen, opened a fundraiser to cover her medical expenses. When news of the attack and Xie’s fighting back went viral, the GoFundMe surged past its $50k goal, raising nearly a million dollars in a matter of days. Tens of thousands of people donated. In a separate fundraiser, 9,400 people donated just over $280,000 to Pham, whose injuries may require surgery.

Xie, however, refuses to keep the money. Instead, she’ll be donating it to organizations that will help defuse racism against the Asian American community.

“She insists on making this decision saying this issue is bigger than her,” said Chen, adding that she insists people not “submit” to racism.

The attack on Xiao Zhen Xie and Ngoc Pham came less than a full day after six women of Asian descent were murdered in a spree killing in Atlanta, Georgia. Advocates attribute the increase in violence against Asians to the racist rhetoric surrounding COVID-19 that was a strong part of former President Trump’s response to the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition tracking violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, said they’ve received nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents since March 2020.

According to Xie’s daughter, Dong-Mei Li, her mother is “traditional and hardworking” and resistant to the idea that “a fuss” should be made about her.

Image: Shutterstock

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Donation News

“Game Changer” Sold for Health Charities

In May 2020, a black and white painting of a young boy sitting on the floor swooping a toy around, the action figure of a nurse in a superhero cape, appeared on the wall of Southampton General Hospital. The only spot of color is the archetypal red cross on her shirt. Nearby, in a waste basket, Batman and Spider-Man toys have been obviously cast aside for a greater hero.

Unlike most Banksy art, or most of what we think of as Bansky art, this painting, titled “Game Changer,” isn’t graffiti and it wasn’t a guerrilla effort. The framed painting was instead hung with the collaboration of managers of the hospital. But the secretive artist did leave a note.

“Thanks for all you’re doing,” the note that accompanied “Game Changer” read, addressed to all hospital workers. “I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only in black and white.”

Nearly a year later, being called a hero has taken a bitter taste in the mouth of most health workers. It was only ever lip service, as was proved whenever these heroes asked for more staff, for danger pay, or for more support. But the painting stayed up, and it did brighten people’s days. And hopefully now it can do more.

On Tuesday March 23rd, “Game Changer” sold at auction in Christie’s of London for 16.8 million pounds ($23.2 million), a record for Banksy’s art. According to the auction house, proceeds from the sale and “a significant portion” of Christie’s cut will be donated to fund health charities across the United Kingdom.

The sale, which was planned from the first donation of the painting, came on the one-year-anniversary of Britain’s first national lockdown. It also doesn’t leave the staff at Southampton empty-handed – a reproduction of the painting continues to hang in the same spot, complete with the original note.

Image: Shutterstock

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Ben Navarro Donates $1.25 Million to the College of Charleston

Ben Navarro turned a well-connected family and a bachelor’s degree in finance into a $3 billion nest egg in just over 30 years. Formerly a vice president of Citigroup, he left the investment bank to found his own, Sherman Financial Group, which currently owns Credit One Bank. Ben Navarro also owns two tennis clubs, and tried to purchase the Carolina Panthers, North Carolina’s NFL team, but lost it in auction. Today, he and his family live in Charleston, South Carolina.

As a philanthropist, Navarro’s priorities are plain – healthy, well-educated minds. In recent years, he has founded a small string of private schools, a scholarship fund for low-income Charleston County high school students, and a mental health wellness center targeting anxiety and depression.

On March 15, College of Charleston President Andrew Hsu announced that a large donation from Navarro was being given to the college’s teacher education program for the purpose of educating more teachers to work in underserved communities.

“The gift really recognizes our commitment to excellence in public education at all levels,” Hsu said. “It will help us create and support a national signature program.

“As a public institution, we have the responsibility of helping the state to narrow the educational gap,” he continued. “It is our duty to help the underserved communities, or help prepare teachers for the underserved communities.”

South Carolina is currently weathering a heavy teacher shortage, one exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. As of February, five months into the school year, the state was still short more than 500 teachers in all grades. The College of Charleston is working on a plan to attract more students passionate about education, and Ben Navarro’s generous donation will help them recruit those students.

“We already have a lot of strength in terms of faculty and programmatic offerings around teacher education for students coming from underrepresented populations,” said Suzanne Austin, provost and executive vice president of student affairs. “So we already do that work but we’re excited about doing more.”

Editorial credit: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News

Jack Harlow Donates $500k Won in Open Run Competition

On Saturday, March 6, rapper Jack Harlow and hip hop artist Quavo faced off against rappers 2 Chainz and Lil Baby in a two-on-two game of basketball. First team to 21 wins. The prize? A literal duffle-bag full of cash, a cool half a million dollars.

The contest was the Bleacher Report’s Open Run 2-on-2 competition, kicking off the NBA All-Star Weekend. Harlow and Quavo beat 2 Chainz and Lil Baby handily, with a final score of 21 to 7. The Bleacher Report tweeted a photo of Harlow hugging an open duffle bag, visibly full of hundred dollar bills, under the caption “@QuavoStuntin and @jackharlow are ready to spend this $500k”

Harlow immediately tweeted back with his plans.

“I”ll be donating $500k to Kentucky State University and Simmons College of Kentucky.” The tweet ended in four violet hearts.

Harlow was born and raised on a farm in Louisville, Kentucky, which is where Simmons College is. By the morning of Sunday, March 7, both historically black colleges had been informed of the unrestricted donations, $250,000 each.

“Donations like this are very vital to institutions like Simmons College of Kentucky,” said Krystal Goodner Spratt, Director of Communications at Simmons. “For other institutions, it might seem like it’s a drop in the bucket, but, for us, it is truly a lifeline.”

“Insignificant attention, so far, has been given to the role and the history of HBCUs, creating the Black middle class and workforce of Kentucky,” said Dr. M.C. Brown, president of Kentucky State University. “So, I hope this donation will spark future conversations to make sure we keep continuing to provide the workers to keep Kentucky strong.”

Harlow describes his career as a white rapper as being “the guest inside a house of a culture that isn’t mine.” These generous donations make plain the debt he feels he owes his hosts in that house.

Image: Jamie Lamor Thompson / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Eric Schwam Honors Le Chambon-sur-Lignon’s History of Generosity

In 1943, Eric Schwam, his parents, and his grandmother arrived in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a very small town in south-east France, as refugees.

Originally from Vienna, the Jewish family were removed from Austria by the Nazis and held in an internment camp in Rivesaltes until 1942. They, along with hundreds of other Jewish refugees, were sheltered by the town’s citizens through the rest of WWII, hidden in the village’s school. Only 11 when he arrived, Schwam left the village after the war as an adult—though he remained in France, married, became a doctor, and lived the rest of his life in Lyon.

Schwam passed away on Christmas Day 2020, at the age of 90. In early January, a notary contacted Le Chambon-sur-Lignon with surprising news: Schwam’s estate included an exceptionally large bequest to the town. The number is being held in confidence until things are final, but it is at least $2.4 million.

“He was a very discreet gentleman and he didn’t want a lot of publicity about his gesture,” said Denise Vallat, culture and communication assistant at Le Chambon-sur-Lignon.

Jean-Michel Eyraud, Mayor of the village, said that the money will be used to fund youth initiatives and education. Hopefully, it will keep people aware and proud of the massive generosity that is at the heart of the town.

WWII was not the first time Le Chambon-sur-Lignon has opened its gates to those fleeing lethal persecution. In the 17th century, the town sheltered Huguenots (Protestants) from laws requiring their execution. In WWII, it was two Protestant pastors—the spiritual descendants of those refugees—who organized the citizens to shelter between 3000 and 5000 Jewish refugees, transporting many across the border to Switzerland and safety. And today, the village shelters refugees from war zones in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Anonymous Edmonton ‘Santa’ Gives Out Poem and $250 Gift Card

It’s become trite and overplayed to point out that 2020 was hard on everyone, but it was. It was catastrophically hard on many, whether they lost lives close to them or the livelihoods that support their families. When Christmas came, many found the holiday more burden than celebration.

Edmonton, Alberta in December was looking at nearly 12 percent unemployment, after losing between 11,000 and 21,000 jobs per month from March onwards, making it one of the hardest-hit cities, economically, in Canada. So many felt very far distanced from the season of giving.

For almost 400 families, though, Santa Claus visited in the night over Christmas. Scores of households woke up to an envelope on their doorsteps. Inside was a poem, and a $250 gift card to Walmart.

“the whole world ain’t as dark as it sometimes seems / there’s light if you look for it, if you know what I mean,” says the poem, and it ends with a message exhorting that the generosity continue. “don’t need this? Please pass the baton / for that is the way, hope carries on.”

The poem were unsigned, though an email address was included. So far, the owner has not reached back to any attempts at contact, except to answer a query about why:

“I decided to do it because I know that lots of people have had a really touch year and I had the means to help out,” “Santa” answered CBC news. “I hope the gifts give people a sense that the world is good and there is a brighter future not far ahead.”

There can’t be many people capable of casually donating $100,000 to their fellow citizens. And fewer who would do so. 

“To have something like this, I mean, that’s a month of groceries for us,” said Elisha Tennant, one recipient of an envelope. Tennant was laid off in 2020 due to the pandemic. “It was just very heartwarming and touching that someone would do that.”

Source: Good News Network

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Anonymous Couple Donates Home to House Survivors of Trafficking

Samaritan Village is a nonprofit in Orlando, Florida which helps those rescued from human trafficking situations resume their lives. For years, they had a single safe house, a place where survivors could be given treatment for trauma and vocational training to start a new life. 

“It’s really difficult for us to find our graduates safe housing,” said Dionne Coleman, executive director of Samaritan Village. “A lot of them, because of addiction and the lifestyle that was led during their trafficking experience, have felonies so that can limit them from being able to rent in very healthy and safe neighborhoods,”

Their single safe house could only house nine women, and many needed their help for as long as 18 months at a time. With over 450 referrals to their program a year, the need was dramatically underserved, and so they began fundraising last year to buy a second safe house.

“Smack dab in the middle of COVID with everything shut down we received a call from Summit Church that there was an anonymous donor that wanted to give away a house,” Coleman said.

The donors, who are remaining anonymous both for their own sake and to keep the safe house’s location private, did speak to reporters. 

“We had a desire for a long time to give a house away at some point in our lives. We had been praying for about 10 years to have that opportunity,” the couple said to ABC Channel 9.

The money raised so far will still go to buy another house, enabling Samaritan Village to protect more survivors than they’d expected. They hope to make a purchase in 2021, and are considering expanding their services to further help graduates of their program reintegrate.

“Thank you doesn’t really cover it,” said the first woman to occupy the donated home, who goes only by Megan. “It’s such an obvious thing to say. I don’t think they understand the impacts they’re making in our life. It’s definitely more than a home. It’s a place I can continue my journey.”

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Donation News

NY Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Helps Raise $5 Million For Texas

During the week of February 15, nearly half of Texas lost access to electricity, clean water, or both. Thousands of un-heatable homes were damaged by the unseasonably cold winter storm bursting pipes, and tens of thousands of people evacuated. Natural gas pipelines and wind turbines that were not winter-proofed froze, and the demand for power vastly exceeded the supply on Texas’s landlocked grid.

For the thousands who used wholesale power companies, that meant they came back home to astronomical power bills, some as high as $16,000 for a week when they might not even have been home. It will be months before the financial impact of the storm is clear, or the resultant loss of life. So far, the latter is at least 80, including an 11-year-old boy who died of hypothermia wrapped around his three-year-old brother in their bed in a mobile home.

“It’s one thing to read about what’s going on,” said New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday, February 20. “But it’s another thing entirely to see the damage for ourselves. The message in Washington is let’s not let people get caught up in a bunch of red tape. Let’s try to get this assistance out the door as much as people need and as quickly as we can.”

By then, Ocasio-Cortez had already raised over $2 million for Texas through a fundraiser that she launched through Act Blue, a Democratic fundraising tool. By Tuesday, it was $4.7 million, raised mostly through small grassroots donors.

Her fundraising efforts were helped to go viral by the coverage of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who responded to the disastrous storm by taking his family and friends on a flight to Cancún. Ocasio-Cortez held nothing back in criticizing Cruz for his egregious negligence on Twitter, though she took a long break Sunday to work in a Houston food bank distributing donated supplies to Cruz’s displaced constituents.

Image editorial credit: a katz / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Man Raises $30,000 from Beer Made in Honor of Wife who Died of Cancer

Darcel Fahy was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in 2010. She was young, just a few years out of high school. With her diagnosis, her doctor gave her odds just under 40 percent of making it five years. But she chased heroic measures and squeezed 7 and a half years out of that before she passed away at home in 2017.

“I always feel one of the big injustices was that I knew her longer with cancer than without it, you know, and that’s a shame,” said Mike Fahy, Darcel’s husband. They married just two years before her diagnosis.

Mike was at Darcel’s side as she pursued aggressive treatment, including a medical trial of a new chemotherapy protocol at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

“It was pretty tough on her physically, but she always found a will and a way to do it. She never complained, no matter what, no matter what they threw at her, she didn’t complain,” said Mike.

Due to that trial and Darcel, that protocol has become the standard of care for ovarian cancer care at Magee. It has helped other women live past their odds as she did. And Mike chose to honor her by helping those women in another way.

With the help of his former place of work, Whitehouse Brewery, Mike raised $30,000 by selling a signature beer brewed in Darcel’s honor. They donated the proceeds to ovarian cancer research at Magee, the same research that helped her.

“It’s monies like these that allow us to do that initial work that engages the interest of the funder, and without these funds, we wouldn’t have successful grants,” said Dr. Robert Edwards, OB/GYN Chair at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. This way, the money donated in Darcel’s name can generate much more money, extending the reach of her memory to potentially thousands of patients.

Source: CBS Pittsburgh