Many folks have given thanks for Elvis Presley’s generosity. Not many people realize what a generous and giving legacy Elvis left behind.
Not only did he give the world his time and talent, he also gave back to those in need. He donated thousands to charities, nonprofits and those who needed a helping hand. Elvis started giving back as soon as his career began, and this was a trend that continued throughout the rest of his life.
Early in his career, he donated toys to a Marine drive for children and gave $1,050 to Humes High School so that all 1,400 students could go to the annual E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game for the Blind. In 1959, he donated blood at the Wartturm Barracks in Friedberg for the German Red Cross.
Never one to forget his roots, Elvis performed in his hometown, Tupelo, in 1956 and 1957 to raise money for a youth center and park. Following a devastating tornado in McComb, Mississippi in January 1975, Elvis performed a benefit concert for the city in May of the same year. At the show, Elvis presented a check for more than $100,000 to Mississippi Governor Bill Waller.
In 1961, he performed a concert to build the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and raised more than $65,000. And 12 years later, Elvis donated the proceeds from his 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” satellite-concert to the Kui Lee cancer fund.
He loved Memphis and wanted the best for the city. On Dec. 1, 1967, he pledged $10,500 to the Memphis Jewish Community Center Building Fund and paid a $2,500 installment on that date. On Dec. 12, 1966, he donated checks totaling $105,000 to various Memphis charities. September 29, 1967 was declared “Elvis Presley Day” by Memphis Mayor William Ingram and Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington in recognition of the King’s many charitable contributions. A massive wooden plaque was given to Elvis by the City of Memphis in recognition for his contributions to more than 50 local charities. That plaque, along with numerous checks he wrote to charities, are on display at Graceland.
Elvis was known to give plenty of gifts – there are countless stories of surprising friends, family and even total strangers with brand new cars – but he also helped his friends pay their medical bills (and often sent personal get-well notes, too).
In 1974, he contributed to a fund for singer-songwriter Ivory Joe Hunter, who was hospitalized with cancer, and he helped pay for Jackie Wilson’s hospital bills following Wilson’s stroke in 1975.
Some of Lisa’s best memories of her father stem from his generous nature. “I only remember him giving to people,” she said. “I remember people going to him saying, ‘I just got a bum deal,’ and bang, there was a check. I never saw him not doing something for somebody, ever. … That was probably the one thing that kept him sane, was his ability to give back.”
Elvis’ fans can give like the King too during this holiday season. By making a donation to the 2014 Graceland Poinsettia Campaign, you will support the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation, as well as add to the beauty of Graceland during the holiday season. The red poinsettias line the staircase at Graceland and can be seen throughout the mansion by guests who visit this Christmas.