More Than Money
Issue #12

Creative Giving

Table of Contents

“Does Anyone Out There Need Some Money?”

I grew up poor in the Copper country in Northern Michigan. When I was young I made a vow to myself that if I ever struck it rich, I would help others with less. Well, that's exactly what I did. I write a column called "Thanks A Million' in over 140 newspapers across the country, in which I offer money to those who need it.

It all started after a bicycle party I gave for 1,050 underprivileged children in Minneapolis. My friend Hubert Humphrey called me after watching the newsclips on TV. He told me, "Percy, you're going to receive an avalanche of mail from people requesting your assistance. I think you should start a column like Ann Landers or Dear Abby." Hubert was dying of cancer at the time. He closed his conversation by saying, "Thanks a million, ol' buddy, and take care." So not only did Hubert give me the idea for the column, he also named it.

I found it surprisingly hard getting my column syndicated. I went to every major syndicate and they either told me I was too old or that the idea was too novel. Finally, Dennis Allen at the Register and Tribune Syndicate in Des Moines, Iowa, took a chance on me. The first column was printed March 27,1983.

At present I personally read hundreds of letters a week from people requesting assistance. I instinctively get a feeling about whether or not they are on the up and up, and whether my money is really going to help. Giving has become my life-it gives me direction and purpose. I'll soon be 80 years old and I can't imagine my life without the column.

- Percy Ross

Here is a sample of Percy's column (from Ask For The Moon - And Get It!, by Percy Ross, Putnam, 1987):

Dear Mr. Ross,

My mother works very hard to raise my younger brother and me, and we both help her as much as we can. I have been trying to find a job for over a year so I can help at home. Now that I'm 15, I can start a good-paying job for $3.35 an hour after school and on Saturdays. My mom can't leave her work to drive me back and forth and my old bike keeps breaking down. If you could please lend me money to buy a bike, I will pay you back $5 a week. I'm going to work hard and become a millionaire like you.

- M. N., Dallas , Texas


© 1990-2005, More Than Money, All rights reserved