Oprah Winfrey attends the European Premiere of “A Wrinkle In Time’ at BFI IMAX on March 13, 2018 in London, England. On 17 May 2019, Oprah surprised a New Jersey High School with a $500,000 donation to their after school program.
((Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage))
The master of gift giving, Oprah Winfrey, is dropped by a New Jersey High School on Friday surprising students and teachers with a pizza party, as well as announce they are donating $500,000 to their after-school program.
Oprah got word of a program on the Wide Side of the high School in Newark called “Lights On,” which was founded by the school principal and varsity basketball coach Akbar Cook.
It was created to keep students off the street by giving them a safe place to hang out on a Friday night. From 6:00 until midnight, the classmates can play basketball, video games, board games, shoot pool, practice, sing or record music in a safe environment, according to WPVI.
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“I haven’t lost more children to gun violence since the beginning of the school year,” Principal Akbar Cook told WPVI.
Cooking posted on social media of the two together, hand in hand.
“Everyone talks always about the grades. You can not begin to talk about the qualities, unless they feel safe, when they feel seen, unless they feel respected, unless they feel valued,” said Winfrey at the event.
Cook called it would be the first of many photos, declaring himself to be blessed with a photo and explanation of the Oprah “family” in another.
“That is a half million dollars to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing, because what you are doing is a step in the right direction,” Winfrey said in a video she posted on her Facebook Page, while surrounded by screaming students. “I saw what your great client was doing, and I thought, what can I do?”
The Lights On the program first fame in September last year after the Cook came up with a unique idea to help students who are bullied for wearing dirty clothes.
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He installed washing machines in the locker room, give the students who couldn’t afford to wash clothes, or missing class in fear of being bullied is a reason to come to school.
“My children feel that they are not everyone,” Cook told NJ.com. “And you took the time out of your busy schedule to show me and my baby’ s love. I am knocked out. I’m really humbled.”
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This is the second major celebrity to donate money to the Cook’s cause. Ellen DeGeneres had him on her talk show twice, giving him $50,000 on both occasions to his “Lights On” program.