Mystery Gift to Pa. Town: $100M

Rust belt community surprised by bonanza
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2007 12:07 PM CST
Erie Community Foundation president Mike Batchelor talks about an anonymous donor who gave $100 million to the Erie Community Foundation while in his office in Erie, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007. The donor...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – An anonymous donor has given $100 million to charities in the Erie, Pa., area, thrilling and mystifying the beneficiaries. The donation went to the umbrella organization of the Erie Community Foundation, which will distribute the funds to 46 other groups. The foundation director revealed little but told the AP, “The donor hopes this will inspire others to give within their means."

The county has seen an exodus of jobs as first steel and then other factories have closed or moved abroad. Erie’s poverty rate is twice the national average, at 19%, and household income is low. The biggest previous donation to the homeless shelter was $25,000; one director of a homeless shelter wept as she talked about the $2 million the shelter will receive.