Entries in Donation (9)


Bride’s Shattered Wedding Saved by Surprise Donation

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Niki Stephan, 28, and Brian Smith, 28, of Portland, Ore., were prepared to say “For better or for worse” to one another, but the ballroom for their wedding wasn’t.

After they had already paid $4,000 to reserve the Arista Ballroom for the ceremony, the building suddenly closed because of fire code violations, and Stephan said its management would not refund her money.

“It’s been kind of hard, because a month after I got that email from the Arista, my department at work was reorganized and I lost my job,” Stephan told ABC News. “It’s definitely been very trying, and initially I was, for some reason, bitter with everybody. But I realized that’s not the right way to approach this. Obviously I had to come up with a solution. So Brian and I had to spend the money we had saved for a small honeymoon on a wedding.”

But little did she know that behind the scenes was a group of very generous wedding vendors, working furiously to pick up the missing pieces.  They were determined that Niki and Brian would have their fairy tale wedding.

Stephan is not the only bride whose wedding plans had been shattered on short notice by the Arista’s closing. So when Shannon Long, the wedding event manager for the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, Wash., saw the story on ABC affiliate KATU, she decided she had to do something to help. Long immediately contacted Kristina Kuntz, a wedding aficionado who owns Niella’s Special Events.

“She gave me a call and said, ‘Look what happened. Do you think we could do something?’” Kuntz said. “So I told her to give me a couple of hours and let’s see what we can do. I reached out to a few of my vendors. They’re great people. They really care about people. All of a sudden the response was just amazing.”

Right away, Kuntz had about five emails from vendors all asking what they could do to do help. And from there, the response kept growing.

“I started getting more and more emails. People were contacting me saying, ‘I saw you need a videographer. We want to be involved,’” said Kuntz.

It took Kuntz about three weeks to line up all the vendors. She even worked with Long to arrange for the couple to keep their original wedding date, March 17. The celebration will now be held at Heathman Lodge.

After all the details had been set, Kuntz and Long arranged to surprise the bride, who also works part-time as a wedding officiant.

The affiliate, KATU, was there to record the bride’s surprise on camera as Kuntz presented her with a check for $20,000 to cover her wedding expenses. “Everything’s going to be put together for you. You just need to show up,” Kuntz told Stephan.

Kuntz read her the full list of everyone who donated their services.

“It’s a really weird feeling because I’ve never really been given anything. I’ve worked really hard for everything I have. To be given something, and something so large, how to you repay them for this?” Stephan said. “I still am piecing together the concept of these people helping us out. It’s very surreal. I don’t think a thank you or a hug will ever be enough.”

Kuntz was as touched as the bride. She started crying as she told her the good news.

“I’m in the industry to make people’s dreams come true, so to do this was just wonderful,” Kuntz said.

The couple is currently trying to take their previous vendor to court, and is so grateful that this opportunity has allowed them to now focus on saving money for their dream honeymoon to Italy.

“It’s definitely helped us feel like we can finally breathe. Even while trying to bring them to justice,” Stephan said. “I just want them to do the right thing. And that’s what I’m hoping they’ll eventually do. But at least I have something more positive to focus on right now.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Diner Peels $10K Off the Walls, Donates to Charity

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DISCOVERY BAY, Wash.) -- Fat Smitty’s Diner along Highway 101 in Washington state is known for its oversize burgers and the unusual way customers show appreciation. At the end of a particularly satisfying meal, customers write their name on a dollar bill and tack it to the wall.

“I’ve never taken any dollars down,” Carl Schmidt, the owner since 1983, told the Kitsap Sun. “This money never belonged to me.”

The tradition started in 1985, when a salesman left a single dollar and his business card pinned to the wall after a meal. In the ensuing 27 years, thousands of other customers have follow suit with some walls of the restaurant coated in multiple layers of bills.

Now Schmidt is planning on donating the thousands collected to charity.

As the restaurant was being closed for the season, Schmidt with the help of volunteers,  including members of the Boy Scouts of America, collected the money. The volunteers peeled $10,316 worth of dollars from the walls and ceiling.

Schmidt, a retired Marine, told the Kitsap Sun he will donate the money to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Camp Parsons Boy Scout Camp to fund a new dining hall.

Multiple troops of Boy Scouts have made a tradition of  stopping at Fat Smitty’s diner after a camping trip.  One wall was covered not only in bills, but in Boy Scout patches.

Casey Carson, Schmidt’s nephew and the manager of the restaurant, says Fat Smitty’s will open again in March with a slightly different look but the same attitude.

“It is hard to take all this down,” said Carson, who was married at the restaurant in 1994. “It makes it easier to know that the money is going to charity, and hopefully people will put it back up again.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Poor’ Woman Leaves Close to $2 Million to Salvation Army

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(MODESTO, Calif.) -- She was taught by her mother to never waste a thing. She never purchased a dryer, hanging her laundry on a clothesline in the backyard. She painted her home when it needed a touch-up and mowed her lawn until her early 90s. She refused to go to restaurants, the movies or pay for cable TV.

It could be said she took frugality to a whole new level.

Needless to say, it was a shock when a check for $1,731,533.91 from the estate of Elinor Sauerwein was presented to a California branch of the Salvation Army last Christmas Eve.

“It was a surprise and a blessing,” Capt. Michael Paugh of the Salvation Army in Modesto told ABC News.

Paugh was getting ready to head home for the holidays when he got a call from John Bullock, Sauerwein’s longtime friend and financial adviser, who had power of attorney over her affairs. Bullock was on his way over to present the freshly printed check to the charity.

“She said every dollar I save is another dollar that could go to the Salvation Army. Her goal for years and years was to amass as much as she could so it would go to the Salvation Army,” Bullock told ABC News. “She did an excellent job at it.”

Sauerwein grew her own fruits and vegetables in her meager backyard, and even at age 90 would climb to the top of a ladder to pick them. The extreme frugality certainly paid off:  At the time of her death, Sauerwein had amassed almost $2 million in savings.

Taking the early advice from her mother to heart -- or some might say to extremes -- Sauerwein rarely splurged. She went on vacation only once in her life, dragged to Hawaii by a friend, said Bullock. Once she returned, Bullock said she continued to justify her “spending spree” to him for months to come.

“Most people around her thought she was poor. Sauerwin’s friends knew she had money, but they just didn’t know how much,” Bullock told ABC News.

By all accounts, the scrimping started early. In the late 1930s, after she’d graduated from college, she taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Crookston, Neb., traveling to her job on horseback. When she arrived, she’d light a fire to warm the room for the schoolchildren, teach, clean the room and hop back on her horse for the ride home.

She soon met her husband, Harold, and they married in 1945 and moved to California, settling in Modesto, where Sauerwein cooked for ranch hands on the ranch where her husband landed a job. She later worked at LM Morris business machines, according to the Modesto Bee.

Harold Sauerwein became a contractor and built their two-bedroom home with his own hands, said Bullock. Harold, said Bullock, was just as conservative as his wife when it came to spending money. When Harold Sauerwein died in 1994, Bullock promised him he would “look after Elinor.”

Elinor Sauerwein continued her husband’s investments -- which started with discounted loans, according to the Modesto Bee. She continued to make money, but no one would ever guess it by her lifestyle, said Bullock.

“She lived like she was poor,” he told ABC News.

When Elinor Sauerwein died on Oct. 30, 2010, Bullock started compiling her funds for the big donation that she’d planned for “years and years.”  By December 2011, everything was in order. The only restriction on the money was that the Salvation Army had to use it in the Modesto community. This posed no problem, said Paugh, and the charity was happy to comply.

“The money will stay in the community. The neat thing is we stick it in an endowment, and her gift will be helping people 50 years from now, even 70 years from now,” Paugh told ABC News.

“Her gift will keep on giving for years to come.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rejected Blood Donor to Sue Over Faulty 'Gaydar'

22 year-old Aaron Pace is attempting to file charges against a blood center in Indiana after he was denied a request to give blood because, he says, the staff told him he appeared to be homosexual. (Aaron Pace)(GARY, Ind.) -- Aaron Pace claims he is the victim of faulty "gaydar" and intends to sue for discrimination after he was not allowed to give blood because he appeared to be homosexual.

Pace, who is 22 and insists he is straight, was rejected from giving blood by Bio-Blood Components Inc. in Gary, Ind., earlier this month.

Federal guidelines forbid blood donations by gays. The regulations dates back to 1983 and the outbreak of AIDS and the virus associated with AIDS, HIV.

"I was humiliated," Pace told ABC News. "This was my first time experiencing this."

Pace said he filled out a questionnaire at Bio-Blood Components Inc. and sat through an interview with a staff member. When the interview was over, Pace was told he was not eligible to give blood and was turned away.

"She said 'I'm sorry, but it's the way that you act and appear to be. [It's] your sexuality.' And I said 'because I'm what?' and she said 'because you're gay,'" said Pace. He demanded to speak with the doctor on site who reiterated that he had been denied.

Pace said Monday that he plans to sue for sexual orientation discrimination.

Pace said he has an effeminate voice, and thinks that perhaps that was what caused the blood center to assume he was homosexual.

Bio-Blood Components Inc. did not return ABC News' call requesting comment.

Blood donation sites across the country have been banned since 1983 from allowing gay men to donate blood due to a Food and Drug Administration regulation. The American Red Cross and other groups that supply donated blood have asked for a review of the regulation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Video Suggests NPR Considered Accepting Bogus Donation

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Just a day after CEO Vivian Schiller resigned because of a leaked video that featured an NPR fundraiser denigrating Republicans and Tea Party members, a new recording released Thursday apparently shows that the news organization was ready to accept a $5 million check from a phony group linking itself to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Conservative activist James O'Keefe, who made the secret tape, says that a man posing as a representative from a group called the Muslim Education Action Center had a conversation with NPR’s senior director of institutional giving, Betsy Liley, in which she advised the group to make the contribution anonymously so as to avoid a government audit.

When further pressed about it, Liley tells a man identifying himself as Ibrahim Kasaam that since the IRS occasionally audits NPR's programs, "you might want to be an anonymous donor.  And, we would certainly, if that was your interest, want to shield you from that."

Responding to this latest accusation of possible impropriety, NPR released a series of e-mails that apparently reveal that it had at no time seriously considered the bogus $5 million from "the fraudulent organization."

NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher told the website TPM that the agreement "never got beyond the internal drafting stage -- and was never sent.  Period."

Before resigning, Vivian Schiller wrote to Betsy Liley that the Muslim Education Action Center was acting oddly and that she wouldn’t take the money without more information, including data about the group that would need to be provided to the IRS.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Singer Nelly Furtado to Donate Gadhafi's $1 Million Payday

Photo Courtesy - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for LARAS(NEW YORK) -- Singer Nelly Furtado plans to donate the $1 million she was paid to perform for the "Gadhafi clan," Furtado announced on Twitter Monday, while other celebrities have stayed silent on the hefty paychecks they reportedly received from the family of the Libyan strongman.

Furtado told fans the million-dollar performance took place at a hotel in Italy for members of the Gadhafi family and guests in 2007. Furtado's announcement came after news surfaced that celebrity A-listers Mariah Carey, Usher, and Beyonce had each taken the stage for one of Gadhafi's sons.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nine-Year-Old Arizona Shooting Victim's Organs Donated

Photo Courtesy - The Green Family/ ABC News/Handout(BOSTON) -- The organs of nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest victim of last week's shootings in Tucson, Arizona, have been donated to a Boston-area child, her father revealed to The Boston Globe.

The Globe reported Sunday that John Green told the newspaper that he received a phone call about the transplant, but does not know any further details about who received his little girl's organs, or at which hospital.

A spokesman for the New England Organ Bank told The Globe he is unable to comment on donations.

Green told The Globe that the news that his daughter's organs were able to save the life of another child "really lifted" his spirits, and he and her mother, Roxanna Green, are proud of Christina, "who has done another amazing thing."

CNN reports that when asked if he would like to meet the young girl who received his daughter's organs, John Green said yes, he would.

"I'd give her a big hug. It's a blessing," Green said.

Christina-Taylor Green, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, was one of six people killed when Jared Loughner, 22, allegedly opened fire at a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Tucson Safeway grocery store.  She was waiting to meet Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona when she was shot.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


MSNBC's Joe Scarborough Suspended for Political Donations

Photo Courtesy - Virginia Sherwood/MSNBC(NEW YORK) -- MSNBC personality Joe Scarborough has been suspended for two days after admitting he had donated thousands of dollars to political campaigns, a breach of network policy.

In a statement released Friday, Scarborough called the donations "simple acts of friendship" and said that he did not seek approval for the donations because they involved "local, noncompetitive races" that he didn't think were "relevant" to his work.

Scarborough's suspension comes two weeks after it was revealed that another MSNBC host, Keith Olbermann, had made donations to three Democratic candidates.

As in Olbermann's case, MSNBC President Phil Griffin, released a statement explaining that Scarborough's donations were against company policy.

Scarborough will be suspended for two days without pay and will return to the air Nov. 24, according to Griffin.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Zuckerberg's Donation: Good PR or Just Generosity?

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is preparing to announce a $100 million charitable donation to Newark, N.J. public schools.  News broke Wednesday that Zuckerberg, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are expected to announce the philanthropic effort, believed to be Zuckerberg's largest-ever public charitable donation, on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Friday.  But the timing of Zuckerberg's announcement has led some to speculate whether the donation could be part of an effort to help bolster the young CEO's public profile, as well as the image of a company that's weathered a few PR storms over the past couple of years.  The Oprah-worthy announcement comes just one week before the release of "The Social Network," a Hollywood movie expected to depict Zuckerberg as a socially-awkward genius hungry for power and prestige.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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