Fulfilling a promise he made on “The Ellen Degeneres Show” in November, the teen phenom matched a donation pledged by Target that benefits Las Vegas’ Whitney Elementary School and its 600-plus students, many of whom come from low-income families.
Justin Bieber is a man of his word.
On the Ellen Degeneres Show back in November, the teen phenom declared he would match a $100,000 commitment by Target to aid impoverished Whitney Elementary School in Las Vegas. On Dec. 16, he made good on that promise, personally delivering a check for $100,000 and performing a mini-private concert for students at the school, the vast majority hailing from low income families. The set list consisted of two songs from the deluxe edition of his current release, Under the Mistletoe, “Mistletoe” and “Christmas Love,” along with his hit “Baby,” the poignant “Pray” and a cover of Usher’s “U Got It Bad.”
The money, which comes from Bieber’s personal funds and not his philanthropic organization Believe, will go towards providing needy students’ families with food, clothes and money for utility bills. Whitney Elementary also provides assistance to its 610 students, many of them homeless, by providing a food pantry, clothes closet, free haircuts and literacy training on campus.
“For the kids, it shows that someone loves them and cares about them to follow up,” Principal Sherrie Gahn told the Las Vegas Sun. “When you live in an existence where everything seems so hopeless, it’s an amazing gift they will never forget. It’s beyond their wildest dreams.”
Soon after the Ellen segment aired, Gahn says she received hundreds of emails and letter. One Chicago-area high school even threw a benefit dance and raised $1,000 for Whitney. “My biggest motivator for the kids and the thought and the hope that they don’t have to live in this existence when they grow up,” said Gahn. “That they break the cycle.”
The Bieber donation is earmarked to start an after-school program and is one of many charitable endeavors the 17-year-old has taken on this year. In October, he gave $10,000 to the Stratford House of Blessing, a local food bank in his hometown, and last month, he signed a Taylor guitar that was auctioned off to benefit the Winnipeg Harvest. On Ellen, he had previously handed over a lock of his hair, which collected over $40,000 in charitable bids.
In truth, all of Bieber’s business endeavors have a philanthropic component. As his manager, Scooter Braun explains: “My brother Adam [Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise] and I made a pact that every deal we do has to have a charitable component otherwise we don’t do it. Justin heard that and agreed. So literally, every dollar we make, a portion of that goes to charity.”