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Donation

Dolly Donates $1M to COVID Research While Getting Some Laughs

Back in April, while the world was wondering if the COVID-19 pandemic might die down in time for kids to get back to school before summer vacation, Dolly Parton wasn’t going to sit back and not help. The philanthropist made an excited post to her Instagram at the time about research towards a “cure” happening at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

“I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations,” she wrote, signing it “Keep the faith, Dolly.”

She wrote cure – what she meant was a vaccine. The research happening at Vanderbilt was the early stage trials of the Moderna vaccine. And when the news broke in mid-November that the Moderna vaccine was showing an effectiveness in excess of 95 percent, suddenly the entire internet wanted to praise Dolly for ‘curing’ COVID-19.

It’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek response to some long-awaited good news, and while much, much more money than Dolly’s million (and not even all of that) went int Moderna’s trials, the woman deserves some thanks all the same.

Dolly Parton, 74, has never balked at giving back. For decades, the Dollywood Foundation she backs has supported childhood literacy, and she has held benefit concerts in all 50 states for wildlife and HIV/AIDS charities, as well as various disaster reliefs.

“[Dolly] cares so much-” said Vanderbilt CEO and president Jeff Balser after her donation in April. “-about helping others, and we are very grateful for her ongoing support. These funds will help us complete promising research that can benefit millions in their battle with the virus.” Words that seem perhaps prescient – it wasn’t until the end of April that the U.S. reached its first one million confirmed infections. Now in November we are seeing more than a million new cases every 10 days. 

If only we had more people like Dolly Parton.

Source: BBC

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Donation The Power of Giving

Charles Barkley Donates $1 Million to Tuskegee University

Charles Barkley was wildly successful as a basketball superstar through the eighties and nineties, setting records, winning the NBA All-Star award 11 times and MVP in every way one could be. He has arguably been more successful since his retirement, with a career as an Emmy-winning sports analyst and broadcaster, several books, and the occasional dipping of a toe into politics. Today, he’s worth an estimated $40 million.

And he’s looking to give back.

On Tuesday, November 3rd, Barkley told AL.com, an Alabama-based news-site, that he was pledging to donate $1 million to Tuskegee University, without any conditions. This is the fifth million-dollar-pledge he’s made in the past 5 years. The others have been to Alabama A&M, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College in Georgia, and Miles College, also in Alabama. All schools officially designated HBCU, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

Tuskegee University, founded in 1881 as the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers was founded due to a wager between a former Confederate general (W.F. Foster) and a black leader and former slave (Lewis Adams). It is steeped literally to the bricks in the history of people of color in America. Booker T. Washington was among the first teachers there, and owned some of the original campus.

“I’ve been there a million times,” said Barkley of the college – he played college basketball nearby, in Leeds Alabama. 

Without stipulations set by Barkley, the university is free to do what they will with the donation, but the athlete hopes that they will use it for academic scholarships, to help underserved kids get a better foothold in the world. That is the driving force behind his philanthropy, as he made clear in October, when he donated 200 computers to nearby Leeds High School and free wireless internet access for a year to students in need.

“We’ve got to find a way to help these kids compete,” Barkley said “I don’t want them to be left behind.”

Source: Henry Herald

Editorial credit: Bruce Yeung / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Zuckerberg and Chan Offer $100 Million to Help Local Election Offices

So far two people have dedicated as much money as Congress has to help fund election offices as November 3rd races towards us. Mind you, those two people are Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. But still, it sends a clear message that Congress should be doing better.

On Monday, October 26, Zuckerberg and Chan announced a $100 million donation to help local election offices around the country. Along with money they have previously donated in September for the same purpose, that brings their contribution up to $400 million, which actually is just as much as Congress has allocated for the purpose.

Election experts have estimated that ensuring everyone has a right to safely vote this year should have cost on the order of $4 billion, but they’ll have to make do with less than a quarter of that, all the same.

The money will help pay for protective equipment at polling sites, equipment to process mail ballots, last-minute drive-through voting stations, and more. All indications show that, COVID-19 aside, this year will see a voter turnout unequaled in U.S. history.

“We’ve seen massive interest in the COVID-19 Response Grant program over the last month from over 2,100 election officials who are seeking funding to ensure safe, health election options for voters in every corner of the country,” said Tiana Epps-Johnson, executive director of the Center for Technology and Civic Life, which is the nonprofit directing most of the donations.

Because the nonprofit, which acts in a nonpartisan manner and is respected by election administrators on both sides of the aisle, was founded by Democrats, legal groups in 10 Republican and swing states have made legal obstacles against voting centers taking funds from these donations. 

Most election offices which have applied for grants are in rural districts with fewer than 25,000 registered voters, voters who may have to travel hours or even overnight to reach a polling station.

Source: ArkLaTex

Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Adorable, Amateur Pet Portraits Go Viral, Raising Thousands for Charity

It was a joke, when Phil Heckels, 38, posted a silly picture of his dog to Facebook with a £299 price tag in the caption. He’d only drawn it because he was trying to get his little boy to draw with him and make a thank you card.

It didn’t sell. “It was pretty crap,” Heckles says of it with self-deprecating humor. But it did make a bunch of his Facebook friends laugh. The marker-drawing of his black lab Narla was unpolished and cartoony, but expressive. By the end of the first day, he had seven commissions from friends wanting pet portraaits. And those requests kept coming in.

Heckels, who has a full time job in commercial real estate, soon gave in to peer pressure and set up a dedicated Facebook page as the artist “Hercule Van Wolfwinkle,” offering goofy pet portraits with googly eyes, giant heads, and Picasso’s grasp of where facial features go.

Then the internet did its strange thing, and his work went viral.

“I’m just having a laugh with it,” Heckels said. “People seem to be enjoying it and I’m certainly enjoying it.” He does his best to take each commission seriously, but not too seriously.

“I genuinely try quite hard to to try and draw them.”

As the commissions backed up and money kept coming in, Heckels decided to do something good with his strange flash of popularity – he set up a fundraiser for Turning Tides, a homelessness charity his family has always supported. With his art as backer’s gifts, the fundraiser has so far raised over £14,000 for the charity, or enough to provide over 280 nights of shelter.

If you want to get your own portrait, go ahead and contact his Facebook page, but there’s bound to be a wait. Acclaimed artist (his words) Hercule Van Wolfwinkle has more than 1000 pets in his queue already. But he’ll get to you as soon as he can.

Source: NBC 2

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Facebook Donates £1M to Save Historic Site of Turing’s First Computer

During WWII, the English country house known as Bletchley Park was a secret site housing the Government Code and Cypher School, keeping their fingers the pulse of Axis Powers intelligence. Most notably, it is the place where Alan Turing and his team of codebreakers (Gordon Welchman, Hugh Alexander, Bill Tutte, and Stuart Milner-Barry) broke the Enigma and Lorenz ciphers and built Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital electronic computer.

The original Colossus was destroyed in the 1960s to keep it a secret during the Cold War, but a working replica is still there in the same house, the house now known as the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

In August, the Bletchley Park Trust, the charity which maintains the site and museum, reported that they were facing a revenue shortage of over £2 million ($2.6m) because of COVID-19 closures and falling visitor numbers once they were allowed to reopen. This amounts to almost 95 percent of their annual income. In light of the near total loss of 2020’s income, the charity was looking at laying off approximately a third of its few paid employees.

Facebook announced that they would be donating £1 million to the Bletchley Park Trust, recognizing the site’s “ongoing legacy as a birthplace of modern computing.”

“The historic achievements of Alan Turing and the Bletchley team have benefited all of us greatly, including Facebook, and we’re thrilled to help preserve this spiratual home of modern computng,” said Steve Hatch in a press statement. Hatch is Facebook’s vice president of Northern Europe, the largest hub of Facebook outside the U.S.

Iain Standen, the CEO of Bletchley Park Trust, made a statement in return, describing the charity as “very grateful to Facebook.” 

“With this significant support,” he said, “the Bletchley Park Trust will be better positioned to operate in the ‘new world’ and keep its doors open for future generations.” There is no comment yet about how many of the threatened jobs will be preserved by the donation.

Source: The Verge

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Donation News Organizations

Nonprofit ‘Mercy Ships’ to Launch World’s Largest Non-Governmental Hospital Ship

Becton, Dickenson and Company (BD) is a medical technology company, one of the largest in the world and over 120 years old. They essentially invented the modern hypodermic needle, and in the last decade have spent over $30 billion in acquiring some of their competitors.

Feel what you may about the cost of medicine, which tech companies like BD certainly play a large part in, this company works to maintain a clean public image. In 2010, BD was ranked 18th in the Fortune 500 Green List, which ranks all of the Fortune 500 companies by their environmental impact. And then there is Mercy Ships.

Mercy Ships is a global nonprofit with which BD is partnered, running hospital ships which can travel to underserved countries and ports, providing medical care and infrastructure without needing anything new to be built on site.

Celebrating 25 years of their partnership, BD is donating $1 million to the charity to support the construction and launch of the Global Mercy, which at 571 feet and 37,000 tons will be the largest ever non-government hospital ship. The Global Mercy will feature six operating rooms, a fully-functioning hospital, and will house as many as 600 staff, from highly-trained surgeons to volunteers.

Once launched, the Global Mercy will join Mercy Ships’ only other extant vessel, Africa Mercy, in bringing medical care to African nations, where the need for quality surgical care is highest. According to Mercy Ships’ website, 18.6 million people die a year in need of surgical care, nearly all of them in Africa.

“The high quality, compassionate surgical care that Mercy Ships provides to patients has transformed nearly three million lives over four decades,” said Tom Polen, CEO and President at BD. “It’s been a privilege for BD to support the Mercy Ships mission over the past 25 years, and with this newest philanthropic commitment, we look forward to being part of the life-saving medical treatment that the Global Mercy will bring to millions of vulnerable patients.”

Source: Press Release

Editorial credit: byvalet / Shutterstock.com

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Donation The Power of Giving

Angelina Jolie Donates to Kids’ Lemonade Stand Raising Money for Displaced Yemenis

Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq, two best friends in London, are both six years old. Over the summer, their homes were filled with news of Yemen, and the latest developments of the civil war that has been raging there since 2014. While filtering the news of tens of thousands dead, their parents still made sure they understood at least some of the scope of what the people there are going through, with millions displaced into camps, having lost their homes to airstrikes.

“They have nothing, like, the things you need to survive. They have no water, food, oil. And we have all of those things and that’s why we help them,” said Moosa in a phone interview with NBC News.

To help educate their sons about charity, the two families collaborated on a lemonade stand in August. Together, the two little boys sold fresh-squeezed lemonade for £2 a glass to people passing by their east London home, with a big sign announcing that all proceeds would go to Yemen.

Then one day, a letter came in the mail, with a check.

“Thank you,” the letter read, “for what you and your friends are doing to help children in Yemen. I’m sorry I’m not able to buy a lemonade from you, but I’d still like to make a donation to your stand.”

The letter was signed by Angelina Jolie. The family has not said how large her donation was, except to call it ‘substantial.’ The boys, who are after all only six, didn’t know who the actress is, but their parents did.

Since 2012, Jolie has been appointed by the U.N. as a Special Envoy to displaced populations, using her platform and often her physical presence to raise awareness of refugee situations around the world, including Yemen.

“To get the recognition of somebody who genuinely cares, that really meant a lot to us,” said Shakil Moosa, Ayaan Moosa’s father.

Source: NBC News

Editorial credit: Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com

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Donation The Power of Giving

Brontë Museum Receives £20,000 Lifeline Donation from T.S. Eliot Estate

Like many museums, the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England, the small house dedicated to preserving the artifacts and stories of the famous literary Brontë sisters who once lived there, has been closed for half of 2020. Ordinarily host to over 77,000 guests a year, the sudden stoppage of ticket and gift shop sales has cut deep. In danger of shutting down permanently due to budget shortfalls, they reopened in the first weekend of September to much smaller crowds, while running a crowdfunding campaign to help stay that way.

Without any fanfare or announcement, a 20,000 pound donation appeared on their campaign site on Wednesday night, September 9th 2020.

“Realizing that it was from the T.S. Eliot estate was a very special moment,” said Rebecca Yorke in an interview with the New York Times. Yorke is the head of communications and marketing at the Brontë Society, which manages the museum.

T.S. Eliot, who wrote the poetry which makes up the lyrics of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats, passed away in 1965, but his estate still receives royalties from the musical and the 2019 movie recently made from it. He has a tenuous connection to the Brontë sisters; they both knew Sir James Roberts, a Yorkshire baronet and self-made millionaire. Eliot wrote obliquely about Roberts in his poem The Waste Land, as “a Bradford Millionaire.” And Roberts, who was a close friend of the Brontë family, purchased their home and donated it to the Brontë Society. Yes, the very same Haworth Parsonage.

Whether or not the Eliot Estate made this generous donation because of that faint thread of connection or not, the money, which amounts to over $26,000, will keep the museum going for some time, though their debts continue to mount in this difficult time.

If you wish to help the Brontë Parsonage Museum, please click here for information about donating or volunteering.

Source: Town and Country Magazine

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Donation News

John Oliver Offers $55,000 Donation for Sewer Plant Memorialization

Danbury, Connecticut is a modest city about 50 miles northeast of New York City, with a population around 80,000. The original white settlers wanted to name it Swampfield, and its biggest claim to fame until recently was that American hat-making was briefly centered there in the early days of the Industrial Revolution.

In mid-August, Comedian John Oliver focused a diatribe about racially biased jury selection in Connecticut in the town of Danbury–and locals took offense. Rather than just grumbling on their Facebook and NextDoor groups, the citizens took their grievance to the mayor of Danbury. And Mayor Mark Boughton posted a video to Facebook that he’d like to name the Danbury Water Pollution Control Plant as the “John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant.”

“Why?” said Boughton on his video. “Because it’s full of crap just like you, John.”

Boughton walked his rant back the next day, saying it was just a heated joke, but Oliver was publicly disappointed.

“Wait, so you’re not doing it? Aw (expletive) you, Danbury,” said Oliver during his show on the night of Sunday, August 30. “You had the first good idea in your city’s history, and you chickened out on the follow through. What a classic Danbury move. Listen, I didn’t know that I wanted my name on your (expletive) factory but now that you floated it as an option, it is all that I want.”

Not content to leave it at that, Oliver was quick to turn the public spat into a philanthropic opportunity. He has offered to donate $55,000 to Danbury, splitting it between local food banks and requests from Danbury teachers, if the city follows through on Boughton’s threat.

If they don’t, Oliver said he would give the money to Danbury’s “rival” towns, Waterbury, Milford, and Torrington.

Danbury city officials are currently considering the offer, which Boughton called “very generous.”

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Donation News

Artist Hopes To Raise $30m Selling the World’s Largest Canvas Painting

Sacha Jafri was traveling in the United Arab Emirates in April, when COVID-19 closures were beginning to block avenues of travel. The British citizen wound up stuck in Dubai when the UAE locked down travel five months ago. Unable to remain idle, the artist worked out an arrangement with Atlantis, the Palm, Dubai’s legendary luxury hotel. Since the hotel has been unable to use its enormous Atlantis Ballroom, a space meant to seat 500, Jafri turned the space into an artist’s studio for a massive undertaking.

Titled “The Journey of Humanity,” Jafri’s abstract painting is over 21,000-square-feet, around the size of two full-sized football fields. Painted almost entirely by Jafri alone, it has taken nearly five months so far. When he finishes it, it will be the world’s largest canvas painting.

Jafri describes his style, which consists of intensely chaotic and colorful abstract patterns made with both traditional brushwork and drip-painting, as “magical realism.” He has works in the collections of Barack Obama and other celebrities.

“Journey,” which is overwhelming in the way it fills the ballroom like a graffiti carpet, is divided into eight “portals” based on which colors are dominant. And at the center of each portal, Jafri has featured a piece of art created by a child from somewhere around the world, submitted over the past few months through his website.

When finished, Jafri intends to cut “Journey” into 60 pieces, each approximately 10’x10′, frame them, and sell them in a Dubai art auction in December. He hopes to raise $30,000,000, with the aim of donating it to Humanity United, an umbrella charity supporting children in poverty.

“Each person that buys a panel will (not only) own a piece of the largest painting ever created in the world,” said Jafri, “but they’ll own a piece of history, because what we’re doing with that money is huge.”