David Bruce: Charity Anecdotes

  • In August 2010, Aaron Simpson, age 18, from Oakham, England, survived a car accident that killed his girlfriend (Kelly Bulmer, age 17) and a friend (James Adamson, age 23). Paramedic Dylan Griffin, of the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, gave Aaron life-saving help. To show their appreciation to the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, Aaron, along with his family and friends, and Kelly’s family and friends, raised £1,600 to donate to the rescue service in Kelly’s memory. They also donated just over £1,000 to the British Heart Foundation. Aaron said, “It was really nice to meet Dylan. There are so many things I can’t remember, but my parents told me how he and the air ambulance crew helped to save my life.I realize if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here now and wanted to meet him personally to say thank you.”Aaron suffered many injuries and was in Walsgrave Hospital, in Coventry, for two weeks. Dylan said, “I called the hospital the week after the accident to find out how he was doing, but it’s great to meet him in person.” Aaron’s mother, Karen, age 41, said, “We can’t thank the air ambulance service enough for helping to save Aaron’s life.I don’t think people realize the importance of it until they or one of their loved ones needs it.”Kelly’s father, Keith, age 62, said, “As soon as we understood nothing could be done for our daughter, all our thoughts and prayers were with Aaron.We wanted to do something, in memory of Kelly, to say thank you to for saving his life.”Sophie Stevens, fund-raising manager for the air ambulance, said, “We are extremely thankful to Aaron and Kelly’s families for supporting us at this very difficult time. Air ambulance staff are very pleased to see Aaron making such a good recovery but sad they couldn’t make a difference to save the lives of Kelly and James.”
  • Richard Semmler, who teaches calculus and algebra at Northern Virginia Community College, is dedicated to giving money to charity. In 2005, he reached approximately $770,000 in the total amount of charitable donations he has made since graduating from college, and he hoped to give $1 million to charity before he retired. He is able to donate so much money to charity by living simply and working additional part-time jobs so that he can give away half or more of his income. He said, “If I didn’t do all of the things I was doing, I would probably have a new car every two years and I would have a huge house with a huge pool. But I would not do it that way. I want to do it this way.” In 2004, Mr. Semmler made $100,000 and donated $60,000 to charity. His main employer is a beneficiary of his generosity; he has donated $355,000 to fund scholarships there. Another beneficiary of his generosity is his alma mater, Plattsburgh State University of New York, to which he has donated $200,000. Other beneficiaries of his generosity include various evangelical Christian organizations. He knows where his money goes. For example, he donated $100,000 for a Habitat for Humanity house that he helped build. He said, “Most of my dollars go to very specific projects, so I know what I’m funding. I want to see my dollars at work.” By the way, his generosity started with a $25 donation to his alma mater after he graduated in 1968. He said, “That’s the snowball that started rolling. As it did, it got bigger and bigger and bigger.”
  • On 9 November 2011 Andrew Tobias attended the 5thannual Stand Up for Heroes benefit. Among many, many attractions, veteran Andrew Kinard, who is legless and a student in Harvard’s joint MBA/JD program, spoke. Another attraction was Bruce Springsteen performing with the Max Weinberg Big Band. This was followed by an auction of Mr. Springsteen’s guitar. The bidding started at $10,000 and ended at $160,000—in part because of some extra added incentives to bid, including Mr. Springsteen’s harmonica and his shirt. When the bidding ended, Mr. Springsteen went into the audience and handed over the guitar, harmonica, and shirt to the winning bidder and thanked him for his generosity to a worthy cause. Despite all the cool things that happened, however, Mr. Tobias writes that “the coolest thing ever” was when the winning bidder gave away the guitar to the legless veteran, Andrew Kinard. (Mr. Tobias’ advice to Mr. Kinard is “to sell the guitar—he must feel zero guilt over selling it—and use the proceeds to help finance his bright future.”) By the way, the winning bidder kept Mr. Springsteen’s shirt—who wouldn’t?
  • Soprano Emma Eames was often asked to sing at benefits, and occasionally she got annoyed at society ladies who expected much for charity from her but little from themselves. She once made a proposal to some such society ladies who asked her to perform free at a benefit concert: “I will, on one condition. You are all wealthy ladies, far wealthier than I. Now, my usual [fee for singing] is £300. I will contribute that by singing, on condition that each of you will sign for the same amount.” The society ladies said that they would think about it, and they did not bother her again. Music critic Henry T. Finck, a friend to Ms. Eames, wrote in My Adventures in the Golden Age of Music, his autobiography, “The charity of society women too often resembles Mark Twain’s climbing of the Swiss mountains—by proxy.” Ms. Eames was an independent spirit who was not afraid of offending people. She once said to Mr. Finck’s wife, “I love to give parties for the pleasure of leaving out certain persons who want to come.”
  • James M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, was very generous in giving to charity. He often gave away copies of his original writings to charities so that they could be auctioned off to raise money.
  • Everyone has heard of CARE packages, but what does the acronym of the charity group stand for? It stands for the Cooperative for American Relief to Everywhere.
  • “If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.” — Bob Hope.
  • Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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