Andy Larsen is a sports writer, covering the NBA’s Utah Jazz for the Salt Lake Tribune, but with so many games scratched during the pandemic he has like many, spent his time on the Coronavirus.
Then on Monday, November 23rd, while he was sorting his spare change it struck him: Other people in Utah could use the money more than he could. He thought he would reach out on Twitter. He composed a tweet to his nearly 27,000 followers, hoping to quickly find someone who could use the $165.84.
Within a minute, someone offered to essentially double his donation with a deposit into his Venmo account. Then another person did the same, and then another. It kept growing and what had gone from an effort to help a couple of families with Thanksgiving turned into something else. Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox retweeted it, calling the effort “very cool.”
“I figured I would help a couple families with Thanksgiving, or a family with three kids buy Christmas presents,” said the 29-year-old Larsen, who covers the NBA’s Utah Jazz for the Salt Lake Tribune. “I was shocked … within five, 10 minutes we got $1,000.”
But it didn’t stop, soon it was $10 thousand, then $20,000, then $30,000, by mid-day Tuesday it was $45,000.
As of his last check it was over $52,000.
Larsen also heard from people in need. There was someone who got COVID-19 and couldn’t work for a month, possibly putting Christmas gifts out of reach. Another who couldn’t pay a water bill. Someone else whose neighbor didn’t have money for Thanksgiving. Most were local, several were names he recognized from Twitter.
Now, Larsen has been spending time vetting people who reached out for a bit of help and has already begun to give out the funds, so far 13 families have had their holidays gifted with a little more food, or a little more cheer, because of this generosity.
He’s hoping to help with bigger things too, like a down payment on a car for a parent he heard from who can’t get the kids to daycare after being in an accident.
While there are certainly plenty of people who are struggling right now, there are others who find they don’t have some of their usual expenses. With COVID-19 keeping social gatherings small, or non-existent, some don’t have the expensive meals to prepare and pay for. That extra money can go to those who need it and that’s how this gesture grew into something incredible.
The outpouring has been restorative for Larsen, who owes his career in part to social media but has also seen its ugly side. “I thought I was permanently just bitter, the classic embittered journalist,” he said. “And now I’m not for a little bit. And that’s nice.”
That alone would be worth this being your Good News Story of the Day, which you can find in full here. But also because people can still find generosity among the difficulties. Not because one person found thousands to give, but because thousands found a little to give.
If you are wanting to join them you will find him as @andyblarson on Twitter, and his Venmo username is @andylarsen.
Story and Image from KTLA5.