Private Citizens Chip In to Fight National Debt
But $83M over 50 years not enough for one day's interest
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2011 4:41 AM CST
Over the past 50 years, private citizens have donated about $83 million toward the national debt.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The US government has expanded the national debt from $1.1 trillion to $15 trillion over the past 30 years, but all over the country dedicated citizens are doing what they can to repay those obligations, even if it is just a few dollars at a time, reports the Los Angeles Times. For example, Atanacio Garcia, an 84-year-old retired postal worker from San Antonio, sends $50 a month from his pension and whatever he earns from collecting aluminum cans around his neighborhood. "God willing," Garcia said, "I will continue to do as much as I can for the country."

President John Kennedy set up a program 50 years ago to accept private donations against the public debt, and since then it has received about $83 million—including more than $2,400 from Garcia. One Ohio woman donated $1.1 million from her estate. School bake sales have given money. Eskimo Pie Corp. once donated a nickel for each box of ice cream snacks it sold in one month in the 1990s, amounting to $71,894. And President Ronald Reagan donated $1 million in leftover funds from his second inauguration. But while $83 million may sound like a lot, these days it's not even enough to cover one day's interest on the current debt.