Elvis the Humanitarian

Elvis Presley was known as a generous man, using his fame and wealth for the good of others. But, that part of his nature was well expressed long before he became a star. His family was far from wealthy, so all the little extras in life such as toys for young Elvis, were not so easy for his parents Vernon and Gladys Presley to come by. There were times when one of those toys would come up missing. His parents would ask Elvis about it, finding that he had given it to some other kid in the neighborhood whom he noticed had nothing to play with. His later fame and wealth did not create his material and spiritual generosity. It simply fueled what was there inside him all along.

Throughout his career, Elvis often performed benefit concerts in support of various causes - storm victims in Mississippi, Memphis charities, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, the Kui Lee Cancer Fund, just to name a few. He personally donated to many charities, some at random, some on a continuing basis. He also reached out to friends, family and total strangers on an individual basis - paying hospital bills and providing financial assistance for the necessities of life. Much of what he did was done quietly, without fanfare.

For many years around the holiday season Elvis made annual donations to fifty or more Memphis-area charitable organizations. Here are some of them:

Abe Scharff YMCA, Arthritis Foundation, Ave Marie Guild Home for the Aged, Baptist Children's Home, Beale Street Elk's Club, Boys Town of Memphis, Convent of the Good Shepherd, Crippled Children's Hospital, Cynthia Milk Fund, Elvis Presley Youth Center of Tupelo, Episcopal Home For Girls, Foundation for the Junior Blind, Fraternal Order of Police, Girls Club of Memphis, Goodwill Home for Children, Happy Acres, Home for Incurables, Jesse Mahan Center, Jewish Community Center, John Tracy Clinic, Kennedy hospital, King's Daughter's Trinity Circle, Lions Club, Mary Galloway Home, Memphis Epilepsy Foundation, Memphis Hebrew Academy, Good Fellows, Mile - O - Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy, Orange Mound Day Nursery, Porter-Leath Children's Home, Salvation Army, St. Joseph Indian School, Variety Club of Memphis.

Elvis clearly believed in sharing his blessings with others. His choices were diverse and showed no preference for age, race or creed. He saw only the need.

One of his great joys was to see the reaction of someone to whom he gave a special, unexpected gift. To see the look of surprise and wonderment on the face of a stranger when presented a wished-for Cadillac or Lincoln he or she might never have been able to afford. When complimented on a piece of jewelry or an item of clothing, turning around and giving the item to the person who admired it.

The stories of Elvis' generosity, his outreach to others, are many. Just one of the reasons that, twenty-five years after his death, Elvis Presley is still remembered with love and respect.