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I’m donating my paycheck — you should too

The author and his mom, Debbie.

The author and his mom, Debbie. Image by Courtesy of Zach Schleien

My mom, Debbie Schleien was always someone I could depend on. But aside from me, many people relied on her. She became a certified yoga instructor and taught people with severe mental illness. It was the first time they experienced stillness. She led the Larchmont Temple support of Hope Soup Kitchen in New Rochelle, donating her weekends to feed hundreds of homeless people. She did her work because she genuinely cared. Not for fame or fortune, but rather to make people feel at home.

In her honor, I want to make people feel a bit better. In the current situation, many people feel hopeless. The government has been slow to act, and the stimulus checks are a temporary measure. How long will $1,200 per adult, $2,400 for couples, and $500 per child for Americans last? Americans need more help, faster.

So I’ve donated my most recent paycheck to people who have been severely financially burdened by the pandemic. I’m calling this #DebbiesPledge, in honor of my Mom, who passed away this year.

I donated to a variety of GoFundMe projects, in order to continue my mom’s legacy of giving to the neediest. One such project is from a man named Michael who had been laid off for almost 3 months. His unemployment status is still not verified, he has no money and is out of some medication while rationing others. On top of that, his landlord is still asking for rent money.

I also donated to the surviving family of a man named Hector who lost his battle to COVID-19. He is survived by his wife and 3 children, who do not have the financial means to even pay for his funeral expenses.

Other projects are varied, from giving to those less fortunate or to those on the frontlines. For example, I supported a restaurant that has been in a specific family for three generations, and gave to a fundraiser to feed frontline workers at a Brooklyn hospital. One campaign was to support students in a school in the South Bronx, many of which are children of undocumented immigrants who are now are unemployed. The funds were to be used to buy internet hotspots, Chromebooks, and reading materials for these students.

During this unique time, let’s step up, together. Are you with me?

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