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
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
Ask For The Moon - And Get It!,
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.,
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