Tycoon hands out $100 notes to the homeless

Jul 01, 2014, 07:08 IST | Agencies

The recycling baron also treated 200 homeless guests to a lavish lunch at a hotel in Central Park

New  York: A Chinese millionaire made good on his promise to model how the wealthy should give generously to the poor.

Chen Guangbiao, a tycoon who made his fortune from his recycling business, announced earlier this month by taking out ads in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times that he would invite struggling New Yorkers to a free lunch at the swanky Central Park Boathouse on Wednesday. But, before treating his guests to the high-end meal, Chen offered up some other party favours to unsuspecting passersby.


The mogul hit New York City’s Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in downtown Manhattan, and gave out $100 bills to people passing by. “The important thing to me is not the money I’m donating, but to have people take notice of the plight of poor people,” Chen told a paper through a translator. “This, for me, is a journey of gratitude, not a journey of charity.” Some suspicious locals rebuffed his gesture, but others were incredibly grateful.

Grateful beneficiary
After listening to street guitarist Derek Dasher play, Chen decided to reward the musician with $100. “I came up here with a hope, a dream and a bag,” Dasher, who recently moved to NYC from Florida, said. “This $100 is going to help me live until I get everything straightened out. I don’t have a dime to my name other than the $100 he gave me.”

The refuse baron — who is worth $740 million, according to Forbes — wanted to lavish his largesse on New York’s poor to show Americans that the wealthy Chinese aren’t greedy robber barons. He also hopes his good deeds will inspire New Yorkers to reach into their own pockets. “One point is to stimulate people here and around the world to help poor people,” Chen said.

Ad-ding joy
Chen last week released a full-page New York Times ad to announce his plans to host an elegant, three-course lunch for 250 homeless people at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park. Chen then took about 200 homeless people from the Mission to a lunch in Central Park that included such decadent entrées as sesame-seed-encrusted tuna and beef filet. The philanthropist also made a donation to the Mission.

The event wasn’t without entertainment. Chen sang Michael Jackson’s famed We Are the World to his guests. While some have called Chen “eccentric” for his outrageous stunts, advocates say he’s bringing some much-needed hope to a downtrodden community. “Our thought was, if someone wants to treat them to an amazing event,” Craig Mayes, executive director of the Mission said, “Something they would never experience on their own, maybe even a kernel of hope that life could be different again, we’re in for that reason. That’s our motive.”

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