Oprah Winfrey’ philanthropy never stops after the media mogul recently donated $500k to a Newark high school’ “Lights On” program.
The OWN creator surprised students at West Side High School on Friday after she showed up and showed out in support of their program aimed at keeping students safe and off the streets. Through the school’s “Lights On” program, several nights a week students are given a place to go and be safe during the summer.
The program was started by Principal Akbar Cook to allow students a safe space to meet up on Friday nights until 11 p.m. Now thanks to Oprah’s donation, and donations from others, the program will extend to three nights, according to WPVI.
In addition to her donation, and surprise appearance, Oprah also brought pizza from her “O, That’s Good!” line and handed out Shop Rite gift cards to the 400+ students
“That’s a half a million dollars to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing because what you’re doing is moving in the right direction,” Winfrey said in a video that Cook posted on Instagram, according to CNN. “I saw what your great principal was doing, and I thought, what can I do?”
“So I heard about West Side and all the great things that are happening here,” Winfrey said to the group, adding: “So I’m going to leave here tonight and leave you with a half a million dollars,” to cheers from the students.
Winfrey learned about the program after watching a report by Jeff Glor on “CBS EveningNews” where they highlighted Cook’s mission to create an environment for students to be successful. In additon to the “Lights On” program, Cook also installed a laundry room for students to wash their clothes after he learned many students were missing school due to bullying over wearing dirty clothes.
“I think we really put the microscope on basic needs of kids. Everyone wants the high test scores, everyone wants them to perform well. But if the kid doesn’t feel confident in just coming to school, being that person we know they can be, then what are we doing,” Cook said in the interview with Glor.
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