Charity Makes A Comeback
<b>Charity Makes A Comeback</b>

One of the few positives to come out of the terrible events going on in Haiti right now is to see the spirit of charity is alive and well. As of earlier this week, more than $220 million has been donated to Haiti through various charity organizations. As MainStreet reported previously, much of this has come about thanks to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. With that in mind, we thought we’d provide you with some legendary stories of big donations and charitable actions in the hopes that it might motivate some readers out there. You may know some of these people, but many of them you probably don’t. Photo Credit: ClickFlashPhotos

Chuck Feeney
<b>Chuck Feeney</b>

Your first thought reading this name may have been the same as mine: Who? Chuck Feeney was one of the wealthiest men in America, worth $4 billion at his peak, thanks to the lucrative retail business he started, Duty Free Shoppers. However, Feeney had no interest in wealth and decided he would give away the vast majority of it. Even more astoundingly, he tried to do it all secretly.  As of 2007, Feeney was down to less than $5 million. Atlantic Philanthropies, a charitable foundation he created, has given away hundreds of millions of dollars already to AIDS clinics in South Africa, medical care in Cuba and many other places. Feeney pioneered the “giving while living” philosophy of philanthropy which influenced some of the other names on our list. Throughout his life, Feeney lived frugally – he doesn’t own a car and wears a $15 watch. In a rare interview with the New York Times, Feeney memorably uttered,  “Money has an attraction for some people, but nobody can wear two pairs of shoes at one time,” he said. Photo Credit:

Walking for Charity (With Broken Legs)
<b>Walking for Charity (With Broken Legs)</b>

Not all generosity has a dollar sign attached to it. Sometimes it really is the effort that counts. Last year, Phil Packer walked 13 days for charity. Packer, a British soldier, had been badly injured by a rocket attack in Iraq in 2008, and was told he’d never walk again. Little more than a year later, Packer entered the London Marathon on crutches and struggled through two miles a day until he was able to complete the race, in order to raise money for charity (and also, we’re sure, to prove something to himself). Note: The picture here is not of Phil Packer. Photo Credit: Sister72


According to Forbes, Kroger is the most generous company in America. In 2007, the supermarket chain gave away the largest percentage of its operating income to charity of any company (1.7%).  This worked out to be $57 million. Some of the charities it donated to included the Salvation Army, Feeding America and the Boy Scouts. They also gave to the Girl Scouts, but we’re less interested in them (they have cooties). Photo Credit: theogeo

Bill Gates
<b>Bill Gates</b>

Remember the good old days when Bill Gates was the richest guy in the world? It was one of the few trivia questions to which I always knew the answer.  Then, Gates announced that he would give away all his money ($58 billion) to charity, rather than pass it on to his children. With that vast amount of money, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has worked to save the world, funding global health causes like finding a vaccine for malaria. Photo Credit: World Economic Forum

Warren Buffett
<b>Warren Buffett</b>

Warren Buffett is undoubtedly one of the most well-liked billionaires on the planet, and one of the big reasons for that is because of his extreme generosity. In 2006, Buffet made the single largest donation in history and gave nearly $31 billion to Gates’ charitable foundation. Of course, the cynical among us might say he was trying to upstage Gates, but really, who cares? It’s a lot of money, period. He gave away an additional $6 billion of his fortune to three other organizations run through his family, that focus on issues like the environment and anti-nuclear proliferation. So what makes a man like Buffett give away the majority of his $44 billion fortune? According to the New York Times, “Mr. Buffett had insisted that he would wait until his death to make a sizable charitable bequest, but he told Fortune that the death of his wife, Susan, in 2004, his admiration for the Gateses and his certainty about how to dispose of his wealth had caused him to ‘get going’ now.” Photo Credit:

Giving Away Mansions to the Homeless
<b>Giving Away Mansions to the Homeless</b>

It’s one thing to give a few dollars to the homeless people on the street, it’s another to put a nice roof over their heads. In 2007, Genshiro Kawamoto, a real estate mogul and one of Japan’s richest men, decided to devote 8 mansions he’d built in Hawaii to homeless families in need. All that the families had to pay were utility bills. Not a bad deal for homes that were reportedly worth up to $5 million. Part of the motive for this was undoubtedly to get some good publicity. In the past, Kawamoto had been criticized for evicting tenants in order to sell properties. But putting that aside, just the idea of giving away nice homes to the homeless deserves to make the list. Photo Credit: Adrian Miles

Taxi Drivers
<b>Taxi Drivers</b>

Mukul Asaduzzaman, a New York City taxi driver, made news this Christmas when he went out of his way to return money left in his cab. A grandmother from Italy was visiting her family on Long Island and had brought with her $21K. Somehow she managed to leave it behind (I’ve never carried around that much money, but I’m pretty sure I’d be clutching it the whole time.) She assumed the money would be lost forever, but Asaduzzaman was a good man and drove for hours to find the woman and return the money. As it so happens, there is a history of generous taxi drivers. collects six notable stories of drivers who have returned similarly large amounts of money and another driver who offered free rides during the recession. One cabbie even offered to donate a kidney to one of his passengers, but unfortunately it turned out that he wasn’t a match. Still, an incredible gesture, which brings us to the next item on our list. Photo Credit: Seth W.

Giving Your Kidney to A Stranger
<b>Giving Your Kidney to A Stranger</b>

There may be no greater sign of generosity than giving a kidney to a loved one, but what about giving a kidney to a stranger? It’s either insanely charitable, or just insane. But in the cases below, it seems like it’s really the former. Besides the example mentioned in the previous slide about the taxi driver who offered a kidney to one of his riders, there have been others. A woman saw on a flyer that an 8 year old girl needed a kidney and gave it to her. In 2007, Matthew Jones, a Michigan man, donated his kidney to a woman from Phoenix who he'd never met. This single act inspired ten others to do the same over the course of the next year. In fact there is a growing trend of what is called “altruistic kidney donation.” Photo Credit: Steve Punter

Overcoming Your Fears
<b>Overcoming Your Fears</b>

Last year, one teacher in the UK overcame her fears and decided to skydive to help raise money for a school in Uganda. “I was absolutely terrified,” she told a local paper. “It was horrific. I suffered extreme motion sickness during the fall and felt really ill, my stomach was churning. Of course it was all worthwhile, and the money raised will go a long way, but I will never sky-dive again - never." It may not be in quite the same league as giving up your kidney, but it’s still notable. Photo Credit: divemasterking2000


That’s right, you can pat yourselves on the back. In previous years, America has been declared the most charitable country in the world. In 2005, our country gave nearly $300 billion to charity, or 1.7% of the total gross domestic product. By comparison, the second most that year was from Britain, who gave just 0.73% of their GDP. Photo Credit: Marshall Astor - Food Pornographer

Andrew Carnegie
<b>Andrew Carnegie</b>

No list of charitable figures would be complete without Andrew Carnegie. In his lifetime, Carnegie gave away the vast majority of his wealth, donating it primarily to educational causes (he was responsible for the creation of more than 2500 libraries.) He ended up giving away the equivalent of $7.2 billion. Photo Credit:

Charitable Celebs
<b>Charitable Celebs</b>

One of the notable things about the crisis in Haiti is that celebrities have stepped forward to lead the efforts in charity. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney each gave $1 million to the Haiti relief effort, and Wyclef Jean has organized his own charity to help the country (though some have argued it’s poorly run).  But even before the earthquake, a few celebrities stood out for their generosity. When she’s not adopting babies from Africa (or trying to avoid the horror that is Brad Pitt’s facial hair), Angelina spends a good amount of her time and money on charity. It’s been reported that she donates 1/3 of her salary and she is currently serving as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN. Then there’s Justin Timberlake. He was recently voted the most charitable star of 2009, thanks to his work raising nearly $10 million for Shriners Hospitals for Children, a cause that helps sick kids. Photo Credit:

How You Can Make A Difference
<b>How You Can Make A Difference</b>

We realize this sounds like a bad infomercial, but if after reading through these great moments in charity, you want to contribute something of your own, there are a few steps to take. Slate has a great list of ways to help out this year. Also, be sure to check out, which examines and ranks charities. If you have the resources, whether it’s time or money, now more than ever is the time to be generous. Charities have been struggling over the past year due to the recession. Photo Credit: aigarius

Tell Us Your Stories
<b>Tell Us Your Stories</b>

Do you or someone you know have a good story about being charitable? Tell us in the comments section! Don't be shy, here's an example of a simple but nice story we liked from a commenter on about being charitable to the homeless: "One time I was moving between towns and when I stopped at a gas station I bought two hot pockets and as I was walking over to this homeless guy he was like what's that? I was like oh I got you hot pocket. We sat down and ate it right on the curb, he told me some really neat stories about where he had been and where he was heading next." Photo Credit: daoro

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<b>Tweet Alongside Us</b>

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