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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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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 /

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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

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Michael Jordan Donates $10 Million for Medical Clinics in Wilmington, NC

Michael Jordan—yes, that Michael Jordan—may one day be known more for his open hands than for his half-court throw. In 2017, Jordon donated $7 million to open two low-income healthcare clinics in underserved parts of Charlotte, North Carolina. And he’s just done it again.

This time, Jordan’s donation of $10 million will open two new medical clinics in partnership with Novant Health in Wilmington, North Carolina. His own hometown.

“Everyone should have access to quality health care, no matter where they live, or whether or not they have insurance.” Jordan said in a statement. “Wilmington holds a special place in my heart and it’s truly gratifying to be able to give back to the community that supported me throughout my life.”

Wilmington, which has a population just shy of 120,000, has a poverty rate of 23 percent. It also has only one physician per 1,100 people, which is critically low. Healthcare spending in the city is over $7,000 per capita per year.

“This pandemic has exacerbated health equity gaps across our state, making our efforts to close them even more emergent. We look forward to standing these clinics up as quickly as possible to ensure all members of the community have access to necessary medical care,” Carl Armato, president and CEO of Novant Health, said in a statement.

“We are so appreciative of Michael’s unwavering commitment to help us bring affordable care to our communities that need it most. It’s not only an investment in us as a partner, but it’s an investment in each and every person that our clinics can reach.”

So far, the two clinics opened from Jordan’s first donation have seen more than 4,500 patients, and most crucially, have administered nearly 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines in Charlotte’s most vulnerable populations.

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Image for editorial use only: lev radin /

Donation News The Power of Giving

Walmart to Give $14.3 Million in Grants to Address Systemic Racism

In June, while the firestorm of protests sparked by the extra-judicial police killing of George Floyd was burning across the United States, Walmart was one of many companies who spoke out against the general weight of racism that still holds this country down. In an interview with CNBC at the time, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the company would look for ways they could use their resources to address racial inequality, including a promise that Walmart would invest $100 million in the cause of racial justice.

Walmart is the largest employer in the United States and by a large margin, with an estimated 1.5 million employees in the States (and 700,000 more worldwide). They’re also a major employer of black Americans, who make up more than one-fifth of their workforce. According to their own reporting, however, that percentage decreases significantly in higher positions – about 12 percent of management positions are filled by back employees, and fewer than 7 percent of company officers, the highest tier. According to Kirstie Sims, leader of Walmart’s Center for Racial Equality, the company is making tangible efforts within their own walls to improve those numbers.

McMillon had no details on that $100 million pledge in June, and they’ve been sparse in the months since, but on Monday, February 1, the Walmart Foundation announced that they would be disbursing $14.3 million to 16 nonprofits around the country, in the form of grants. Those grants are being given to groups who are addressing race and class inequality in a variety of ways, including health education for communities of color, debt relief for students at historically black colleges, and improving internet and technology access to children who are still attending school remotely.

“Progress sometimes is slow, but with the work and the power and the commitment behind it, we’re going to make change,” said Sims, who originally went to work herself at Walmart to pay off student debt, over twenty years ago.

Source: CNBC

Editorial credit: Jonathan Weiss /

Donation News The Power of Giving

Bernie Sanders Turns Viral Moment into $1.5M for Charity

The inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20th was a chilly affair. There weren’t many present, but those in attendance endured a windy 35° Fahrenheit (1.7° Celsius). Senator Bernie Sanders is from Vermont and used to the cold, but he’s also 79 years old. So no one can blame him for bundling up to watch the event in a warm coat, and handmade woolen mittens. He should have had a hat too, honestly. 

Brendan Smialowski, a freelance photojournalist, captured the image of Sanders sitting in a folding chair waiting for the inauguration to start, arms and legs crossed and a gritty expression in his eyes above his properly-worn mask. He posted it immediately to his photo feed and before the inauguration was even over, the image went viral. Something about the combination of expression, the oversized and very cozy-looking gloves, and Sander’s isolation at the center of the shot caught the collective imagination of the internet. Everyone and their brother immediately began cropping Sanders into every imaginable context – film scenes, classic paintings, sports events, you name it.

Bernie Sanders, who knows full well how the internet works, didn’t sleep on his fifteen minutes of spare fame. Immediately, he acquired the rights to the photograph and had his image put on a black, USA-made sweatshirt, and sold them for $45. All proceeds, every cent, went to Vermont’s Meals on Wheels programs, a collection of programs which support nutrition and outreach to low-income senior citizens. T-shirts were $27. Both sold out in a just five days, and his quick thinking raised $1.8 million.

“Jane (Sander’s wife) and I were amazed by all the creativity shown by so many people over the last week, and we’re glad we can use my internet fame to help Vermonters in need,” said Sanders, who finds the popularity of the frankly grumpy image hilarious. He says he was just trying to keep warm.

“But even this amount of money is no substitute for action by Congress,” Sanders pointedly added. He is a staunch advocate for government safety nets over personal charity.

The famous mittens, it should be noted, were made specifically for Sanders by Vermont school teacher Jen Ellis from repurposed wool and fleece.

Source: CNBC

Editorial credit: Kari Bjorn /

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Elon Musk, Once a COVID Skeptic, Donates $5M to Doctors Fighting Pandemic

Early in the pandemic, Elon Musk was no friend to those trying to keep the disease under control. A skeptic with a massive platform and one of the world’s most-followed twitter accounts, he publicly (wrongly) predicted that COVID-19 would vanish in a few weeks and called California’s shelter-in-place order “fascist” when it shut down his car plant. He also argued with an actual virologist that he knew better than she did how disease spreads, posting already-debunked graphs to prove his point, and filed a lawsuit against Alameda County to try to force them to exempt his company from lockdown closures. His twitter is the first place many people heard about the (false) theory that hospitals were mis-attributing deaths to COVID-19 for… well, some nebulous reason.

Even after being diagnosed himself in early December, 2020, Musk didn’t seem any less skeptical of reasonable precautions.

In the first week of January, Elon Musk passed up Jeff Bezos to become the world’s wealthiest person with a net worth of $209.3 billion. He asked twitter for philanthropic ideas. He signed the Giving Pledge several years ago – a pledge designed by Bill Gates for the superwealthy to promise to give more than half of their net worth away in their lifetime – but has done relatively little on that front. Musk has donated more than $257 million to his own Musk Foundation, but they’ve distributed relatively little of it. Only $65 million since 2016, to approximately 200 nonprofits. With the recent increase in his fortune, that $257 million is only just over 1 percent of his fortune. Far from the half of the Giving Pledge.

On Monday, January 18, despite all of his earlier behavior, the Musk Foundation announced that he would be donating $5 million to two Boston doctors who have and continue to work on COVID-19 vaccines and diagnostic tools. Doctor Dan Barouch and Doctor Galit Alter are both associated with the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard in Boston.

Editorial credit: vasilis asvestas /

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Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical Raises Funds With Disney’s Blessing

With very little advertising, a new live musical was staged on Friday, January 1. Yes, right in the middle of the latest pandemic spike. But don’t worry, it didn’t pack any theatre halls. No, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical was performed entirely on TikTok’s TodayTix live platform. Approximately 350,000 people bought tickets to the digital event, and all proceeds went to benefit the Actors Fund.

The Actors Fund, founded in 1882, is a human services organization targeted to support entertainers, providing emergency financial and housing assistance, health care, and career development. Never has it been more needed than now, with the entire entertainment industry derailed by rolling bans on in-person gathering.

Performed by actors, singers, musicians and TikTokers under the unusually permissive blessing of Disney Theatrics, the musical is an assemblage of dozens of short video clips based on the 2007 animated film under a fan-sung score and the performances of the Broadway Sinfonietta orchestra.

“When Greg Nobile first approached us with the idea to produce a benefit event surrounding Ratatouille, never did we imagine that it would blossom into such an amazing outpouring of love and support for The Actors Fund,” said Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions. “What we all saw New Year’s day was a celebration of art and craft that was as charming as it was moving. It’s thrilling to see how the theatre-makers on TikTok and the Broadway community came together to provide aid to so many in need during this unprecedented time.”

The Disney Corporation is not known for giving their permission to fan-run projects involving their intellectual property like this, even for fundraising purposes, so perhaps this is a new leaf for them. It’s certainly a good look. The Ratatouille: TikTok Musical took less than a month to put together, starred Tituss Burgess as Remy and André De Shields as Ego, and raised just over $2 million for the Actors Fund.

Source: Digital Music News

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Jack Dorsey Donates Another $15M to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income

“I’m now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” – Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inspired directly by the words of MLK, and by the struggles of his own youth and community, Mayor Michael D Tubbs of Stockton, California worked with the Economic Security Project to found Mayors for a Guaranteed Income in June, 2020. During the first crush of the pandemic, while 10 million Americans were suddenly without income or safety net, 30 mayors from all over the country began working together to establish guaranteed income programs in their cities.

“So many of our constituents were in food lines for Thanksgiving,” said Tubbs.

“Covid-19 has made it very, very clear to build back better we have to make sure everyone has an income floor,” he said. “We’re all taking considerable political risk in doing this, but we understand that the biggest risk is nothing changes.”

For Tubbs, the risk was almost certainly a factor in his defeat this November by Republican opponent Kevin Lincoln. However, leaving the mayoral office in January will not stop his participation in this program or his platform of guaranteed income.

At the debut of the program, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, donated $3 million to help launch its efforts. Now as the program gains structure and momentum, he has donated another $15 million, to be divided evenly among the 30 pilot cities ($500,000 each.) Each city will then decide how to allocate those funds. For instance, Stockton will be providing $500 per month to participants. Dorsey’s donation will cover a thousand of those payments.

“Thank you Mayor [Tubbs] and to all the Mayors of @mayorsforagi for these universal basic income pilots! I hope they inform federal policy in the future,” tweeted Dorsey on Tuesday.

Source: CNBC