American's are Donating Their Stimulus Checks to do Good

Helping local communities is what it’s all about.



(UMB-O /

When US government stimulus checks started arriving in people’s bank accounts or mailboxes, American’s started a new giving trend. Many are paying it forward to help others in need.

Nearly 90 million Americans have already received the stimulus payments in April and they are still being mailed according to the US Treasury Department. The payments of $1,200 for a single person, $2,400 for a couple, and $500 per child to help get the economy back on track.

For the record number of people who have been furloughed or unemployed, the stimulus payments are being used to pay rent, utilities, and to buy food or other essentials. However, for people who are working and don’t need the money, giving it to people who do is becoming commonplace.

Kent Chambers, an Alabama teacher who is still working during the Coronavirus pandemic, told CNN that when his and his wife’s stimulus payments arrived, they decided to help people who have not been as fortunate.

"I'm actually in better shape because I'm not having to pay for gas to drive to work and I'm still getting paid [the] exact same amount," he said "There's no need for me to take the money and splurge and do something reckless with the money. Let's help somebody that really needs it."

Chambers used his payment to pay utility bills for some of his student’s families anonymously, donated to a hospital, and is helping to support local businesses. Many small business owners have been severely impacted by lock-downs.

Massachusetts software engineer Kevin Chieppo told CNN that he donated $900 of his payment to Direct Relief, a medical organization that provides protective equipment like, N95 masks, surgical masks, and gloves to healthcare workers. He gave the rest to a grassroots fund that helps the homeless and other needy people.

One regular customer at the Colonial Steakhouse in Pine Bluff Arkansas gave his entire stimulus payment as a tip when he picked up his curb-side to-go order according to The restaurant’s owner Dana Gateley said it was enough for every employee – even the ones that were laid off when they reduced their staff due to the coronavirus regulations – to get $100.

Other fortunate people are taking it one step further by making it easier for others to donate their stimulus payments to their local communities. In Raleigh, North Carolina, Kevin Miller and a few of his friends came up with a new organization called Pledge My Check that lets users pick a small business, restaurant server, or non-profit organization according to CBS17. The hope is to keep the money local to benefit the community.

“We’re all sitting around stuck in our homes, six feet away from people. Not doctors, not grocery workers with jobs that we have to continue working, [and] thinking how can I help during this time that is really sad,” Miller told CBS17.

If you make a pledge, the money goes directly to the person and organization, with no middleman or fees. In just a few days after its launch, Pledge My Check received pledges totaling $20,000 from 11 different states.

Nonprofit organizations in the US have seen an increase in charitable giving since the stimulus checks were received. In fact, Kevin Scally, the CEO of Charity Navigator – an organization that evaluates and ranks nonprofits – told Marketplace that the week the stimulus was paid was “the highest traffic that we’ve had on Charity Navigator.”

There is a 20 percent increase in traffic, the organization has seen a 237 percent increase in the number of people giving and the donations are 30 percent larger. Scally said that is a good indication that people are donating their stimulus checks.

American’s have traditionally lent a hand and opened their wallets after disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and after 9/11, Patrick Rooney, a dean at Indiana State University told Marketplace. This is also the case globally during the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s why Giving Tuesday nonprofit – which is held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving – organized #Giving Tuesday Now on May 5. The organization stressed that people should give to charities that support local communities during this time of unprecedented need. The website has a list of ways people can continue to help.

Giving your entire stimulus payment or whatever you can afford, shows the generosity and commitment to lending a hand to your neighbors that is as American as apple pie.  

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