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Philanthropic Stunner: Civil War Veteran Gives 10,000 Needy Kids Surprise Birthday Gift In 2007

Submitted by: KidsPeace

Categories: Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Jun 25, 2007 – 12:56 PM EST


On 125th Birthday, National Children’s Charity Receives $3.2 Million Gift from Civil War Veteran Gift Arrives 80 Years after Army of the Potomac Veteran's Death

Jun. 25 /CSRwire/ - BETHLEHEM, PA.-June 25, 2007 – Talk about a birthday surprise! On the occasion of its 125th birthday, a national children’s charity dedicated to giving kids peace has just received a gift of $3.2 million from a rather
unlikely benefactor: A Civil War veteran.

Nearly 80 years after Civil War veteran, prominent Bethlehem businessman, and philanthropist Adam Brinker died in 1928, his estate finally made its way to the charity KidsPeace and two other beneficiaries – but not before swelling to the sum of nearly $10 million.

The tale involves many twists and turns, mysterious phone calls, and looking back into the fascinating history of a children’s charity that over three centuries has helped generations of America’s kids "grow up."

"I received a phone call from the attorney for the trustee of the estate, asking if KidsPeace was the same organization once known as The Children's Home in Salisbury Township," says Jackson Eaton, a longtime board member and legal counsel for the 125-year-old, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based children’s crisis charity that helps 10,000 children a at 66 centers nationwide each year overcome crises and traumas, and millions more each year through prevention and public education efforts. "I replied that it was and the attorney asked for documented proof, which we supplied."

In 1882, when smallpox struck the northeastern United States, the president of Bethlehem Iron Works (later Bethlehem Steel) William Thurston founded the Thurston Home for Children in Bethlehem. In 1886, the charity was incorporated as The Children’s Home of South Bethlehem, serving as a refuge for impoverished children, as well as orphans and "half-orphans" (children with one remaining parent who needed temporary care). Later, when the number of children needing care exceeded the Children’s Home's capacity, Captain James Wiley, a retired Marine officer and Bethlehem philanthropist offered his help, donating $6,000 to build a larger home in Salisbury Township. The new building was called The Annie Lewis Wiley Children's Home, in honor of the Captain’s late wife and the organization changed its name to the Children’s Home of Bethlehem and Allentown. Decades later, the entire organization would become known as Wiley House. Finally, in 1992, to better reflect its mission and growing national scope, the name was changed to KidsPeace.

Following the death of Brinker's last life beneficiary, the charitable trust was freed and KidsPeace received $3.2 million.

"Adam Brinker exemplifies America's long and admirable history of charitable giving," says KidsPeace President and CEO C.T. O’Donnell II. "In our annual report of 1913, in between listings of gifts such as chickens, bread, turnips, books, and doll's dishes, Mr. Brinker gave $10 to help our children’s immediate needs. Now, nearly a century later he has made a gift that will help ensure we will be around to give kids peace for another 100 years."

"This is the single largest gift from an individual we have ever received in our entire 125-year history," says KidsPeace Executive Vice President for Strategic Advancement Joseph Vallone, who with Leah Yaw, vice president for fund raising, shepherded the gift through its many twists and turns. "Who would have thought that in the year 2007 our kids would be getting the gift of peace from a Civil War veteran? It’s a wonderful present for our 125th birthday and a wonderful testament to the enduring support our children have enjoyed ever since we were founded in 1882."

KidsPeace is a 125-year-old national children’s crisis charity dedicated to giving hope, help, and healing to children facing crisis. Founded in Bethlehem, PA in 1882 KidsPeace directly helps 10,000 children each year at more than 66 centers nationwide, and millions more through prevention and public education campaigns to help kids avoid or overcome the many dangers and challenges of growing up, including abuse, neglect, depression, and the many pressures of modern life. In recent years, KidsPeace and its teen problem-solving website have provided vital help and comfort to millions following the 9/11 terror attacks, the D.C. sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the London and Madrid terror bombings, the shootings at Virginia Tech and many other crises both large and small. Supported by VIP leaders including its national spokesperson TV personality Leeza Gibbons, Harvard’s famed Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Brown University’s Dr. Lewis Lipsitt, and child safety and self-esteem icon RETRO BILL, KidsPeace was named “The Outstanding Organization” of its kind in the country by the AAPSC and was called “a prototype of what we need for all children everywhere” by the late, nationally renowned child and family expert, Dr. Lee Salk

For more information, please contact:

Mark Stubis KidsPeace
Phone: 800-25-PEACE


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