Giving Back

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.

Elvis purchased the U.S.S. Potomac and gave it to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis to sell as a fundraiser.

Elvis purchased the USS Potomac and gave it to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis to sell as a fundraiser.

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 distributed checks to non-profits and charities at Christmastime in 1963.

Elvis distributed checks to non-profits and charities at Christmastime in 1963.

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.

Learn more about the Poinsettia Campaign and the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation.


9 Comments

  1. Elvis Fan70

    Definitively one of the most awesome traits of ELVIS was his beautiful spirit of giving – and him never forgetting where he came from.His humble beginnings and his appreciating ALL of the riches GOD bestowed upon him – from his incredible talent…to the financial benefits it brought his way…While many of his humanitarian endeavors are known – countless others aren’t – and never will be as they were not done for publicity and are lost to the confines of time.
    And ELVIS’ giving ways continue today – long after Elvis “left the building!” – through the ELVIS PRESLEY Charitable Foundation,Lisa Marie and the legion of ELVIS fans world-wide that continue to give in honor of ELVIS!
    My check in in the mail!

  2. jennifer burton

    Elvis was such a caring and giving human being. He gave so much of himself through his charities and music and just being there for many of his family and friends if they had a problem or just wanted to talk. I love hearing stories on how he gave to many family members, friends and strangers. Priscilla and Lisa still carry on what Elvis started years ago in terms of donating to various charities and causes. The Presley family are a very caring and loving family. God Bless them all.

  3. Jennifer Wooden

    I believe if more people knew of the generosity of Elvis Presley they would not be so judgmental about him. I have always been a fan, and I have heard so many stories in my life about what a giver he was. He gave not only thru his tremendous voice and talent, but also through his heart.
    Elvis will always live in my heart as someone who looked out for the underdog, he believed in giving back so others would have a better life.
    God blessed him and in turn Elvis blessed, and continues to bless his fans through his legacy.

  4. You know I am just going to go off subject for a moment. Elvis Presley`s name deserves to be giving a Place worthy of a true American a place where his name will never be forgotten, and that place is Memphis Airport !!!
    Let`s get it for Elvis.

    • Laraine Bashford

      Eddie, I completely agree, the Elvis Presley Airport, Memphis. Sound really fitting for Elvis. I have been a fan of Elvis since the very early ’60 and am now President of the Official Ace Club Elvis Fan Club here in the South West of France. Elvis Presley will never die, from Generation to generation his name will live on. What was most important to Elvis in his Life. His Family and his FANS. Love him to bits.

  5. louise cohoon

    I agree that the Memphis airport should be renamed Elvis Presley airport. He gave so very much to Memphis in time and money that this would be a great way to honor him. I have been an Elvis fan for over 50 years.I am still in love with the man. His singing is still gives me the chills and fever like it did when I was young. I still listen to him over and over. No one will EVER take his place.

  6. Wies veenstra

    Elvis is en blyft de grootste artiest die ooit heeft bestaan zelfs myn 2 zoons van 11en 8 luisteren elke dag naar hem dat wil toch wel wat zeggen artiesten van tegenwoordig kunnen daar nooit aan tippen ! Elvis Forever!

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