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WEB EXCLUSIVE A self-employed IT consultant, Hugh* didn’t think he qualified for the first round of federal stimulus checks authorized by the CARES Act in March 2020, so when he received the $1,200 check, he didn’t necessarily anticipate spending it. Once living paycheck to paycheck due to the nature of his work, Hugh saved every penny and had a plan to go without income for a few months if work suddenly dried up (or, ya know, a pandemic happened).
And, so, Hugh donated the entirety of his stimulus check to St. Mary’s Food Bank, a local food bank near his home in Arizona, through Pledge My Check, which was founded by NC State graduate Kevin Miller and a group of his friends last spring. In so doing, Hugh joined the 456 people across 42 states who have pledged their stimulus checks to date, donating a total of $303,221 to community members in need, local businesses and nonprofit organizations.
“I know the sheer panic that comes with not having the means to pay all of your bills, and my heart goes out to those who find themselves in this position through no fault of their own,” Hugh said in an email to Pledge My Check after donating his stimulus money last year.
Miller and his friends came up with the idea for Pledge My Check after thinking about what they could do to help out during the pandemic. “We didn’t have any skills we could use to be helpful—we weren’t health care workers,” Miller reflects. A few of his friends decided to donate their stimulus checks and thought, maybe if they put up a website, other people would donate theirs too. “To our surprise, people actually did,” says Miller.
Through Pledge My Check’s website, anyone from anywhere in the world can pledge to donate their stimulus check(s) to a friend who maybe needs help paying their rent or bills, someone in the community who you know is having a hard time staying afloat, a struggling business in your city, or a local nonprofit. And it’s not just small change—a little goes a long way for those who have been hit hard this past year.
Now, another round of stimulus checks are on the way, thanks to a $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress last week. As early as this week, people will start to see the $1,400 hit their bank accounts. While Miller stresses that if you need the money, keep it—if you don’t, you can make a huge difference by pledging to donate it to someone in need through Pledge My Check.
“A lot of folks are doing some really cool stuff with their stimulus checks,” Miller says. “If you’re doing fine and this is extra money, then I would encourage you to think about who you know who maybe isn’t in that stable of a position. We all have something we can do if we sit down and think about it for a sec.”
*last name has been left out per request
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