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Amazon billionaire MacKenzie Scott donates record donation of $1.5M to Meals on Wheels Western South Dakota

FILE - Billionaire novelist and venture philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has given a historic...
FILE - Billionaire novelist and venture philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has given a historic $1.5 million to Meals on Wheels Western South Dakota. Meals on Wheels Western South Dakota received the $1.5 million donation, making it the largest gift in the nonprofit’s 39-year history, according to Executive Director George Larson.(Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 9:36 AM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Billionaire novelist and venture philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has given a historic $1.5 million to Meals on Wheels Western South Dakota.

Meals on Wheels Western South Dakota received the $1.5 million donation, making it the largest gift in the nonprofit’s 39-year history, according to Executive Director George Larson.

This donation will help the nonprofit expand its programs, according to Brent Siekman, board president.

“This gift will ensure we can continue to expand our programs to many other areas, so no senior goes hungry, no matter where they live,” said Siekman.

Since the pandemic began, Meals on Wheels Western South Dakota has increased its output from 1,095 meals served per day to more than 1,500 meals. These meals go to seniors in 50 communities West River.

“Her announcement was a complete surprise, and we are humbled that she believes in investing in us and in our future to sustain our agency’s critical work to continue delivering support to even more seniors in western South Dakota,” Larson said.

Scott previously announced that she was donating nearly $4.2 billion to 384 organizations as part of a plan to donate a majority of her fortune.

She is the 18th richest person globally, with a net worth of over $60 billion. She is also the richest woman in the world and the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Scott originally had an initial group of 6,490 organizations in mind before narrowing her focus to the 384 announced Wednesday. The donations came over the last four months with $4,158,500,000 in gifts to these organizations across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C.

Some organizations fill basic needs such as food banks, emergency relief funds and support services for those most vulnerable. Others address long-term systemic inequities such as debt relief, employment training, credit and financial services for under-resourced communities, education for historically marginalized and underserved people, civil rights advocacy groups and legal defense funds that take on institutional discrimination.

“Witnessing the determination, creativity, and compassion of people in a crisis has been inspiring: cash cards for farmers in Puerto Rico; direct deposits for furloughed workers without access to employer-based benefits; rental assistance for immigrant families without access to government relief; young volunteers stepping in for vulnerable older ones to deliver millions of meals to newly isolated seniors; shelters and counseling centers forming partnerships to handle the surge in domestic violence; two former debt collections executives enabling donors to anonymously forgive $1,000 in crushing medical debt for struggling families with every gift of $10,” Scott wrote.

correction: The original report said in the second graph that MacKenzie Scott was donating $10 million to Meals on Wheels Western South Dakota. While other organizations received that amount, Meals on Wheels received $1.5 million. It has been updated.

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