One New Yorker proved that giving to charity was a better gift than treating himself to a new iPhone — and now the Salvation Army wants to find him and say thanks.
Holiday bell ringers manning the group’s new giant red kettle outside the Meatpacking District Apple store were stunned on Dec. 7, when a man walked up and handed a volunteer an envelope stuffed with $1,020, a touching handwritten note and a mask.
“Dear Salvation Army, I walked into the Apple Store today to buy a new phone,” the note said. “Then I saw your kettle and I was reminded of those in need. It was very cold and windy outside. I am lucky I have a warm home. I have hot food. I even have an iPhone from 2017 that works perfectly well. 2020 has been a hard year for millions of families . . . The iPhone was going to be $999. I also planned to visit Starbucks next door. I should go without both this Christmas season. Please accept this $1,020 and put it to better use. P.S. here is a new mask my wife made for a friend. I consider Salvation Army a friend to New York.”
Tim Hayes, who built the aluminum kettle — the biggest in the world, at 32 feet tall and 16 feet wide, and weighing about 1,300 pounds — was handed the donation by the gray-haired, “typical New Yorker” in his 40s or 50s, who wished him “Merry Christmas.”
“I thought it was fantastic,” Hayes said. “That’s one of the magical things about New York — there are people who do that.”
It couldn’t have come at a better time, as donations at the iconic smaller kettles around the city are down about 35 percent this year — while need is up some 150 percent.Like most things in 2020, that’s linked to the pandemic
.“This year we have far fewer kettles out, combined with lower foot traffic,” said Rebecca Smith, who runs the Salvation Army’s fundraising department for Greater New York, of the lack of tourists and office workers in Manhattan.
The organization started the annual Red Kettle drive in 1891 as a way to raise money for meals for the homeless on Christmas Eve. The Salvation Army normally serves about 3.5 million meals to New Yorkers every year, but that number jumped to 6.5 million meals in the wake of the pandemic.
The Apple Store good Samaritan’s donation, said Smith — who was first to open the envelope — “will provide 430 meals. That’s a lot of bellies that are going to be full because of his generosity.”
She’s seen a lot of “interesting” contributions come in through the kettles over the years, including wedding rings and gold nuggets. “But this was such a touching note. We were nearly brought to tears,” said Smith, adding that the donations also help buy gifts for homeless children. “It’s such a generous gift in such a difficult year. We’re so, so grateful.”
That’s why, a Salvation Army representative told The Post, “We would love to find the donor and thank them.” They would also love for Apple to respond — perhaps by giving the person a new phone or matching his donation and spurring customers to donate as well.
Added Hayes: “I‘m really happy the big kettle is doing what it was intended to do — inspire people — and I hope it inspires others.”
To donate to the Salvation Army: give.salvationarmyusa.org or text GiantRedKettle to 41444.
Credit: NYPOSTNewzandar News