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Oprah Winfrey surprises New Jersey high school with $500,000 gift


The master of gift giving, Oprah Winfrey, dropped by a New Jersey High School on Friday to surprise students and faculty with a pizza party, as well as announce she's donating $500,000 to their after-school program.

Oprah received word of a program at Wide Side High School in Newark called "Lights On," which was created by the school's principal, and varsity basketball coach, Akbar Cook.

It was created to keep students off the street by giving them a safe place to hang out on Friday nights. From 6:00 p.m. to midnight, classmates can play basketball, video games, board games, shoot pool, practice cheering or record music in a safe environment, according to WPVI.

"I haven't lost any more kids to gun violence since the start of the school year," Principal Akbar Cook told WPVI.

Cook posted on social media of the two together holding hands.

“Everybody always talks about the grades. You can’t start to talk about the grades unless they feel safe, unless they feel seen, unless they feel respected, unless they feel valued," said Winfrey at the event.

Cook mentioned it would be the first of many photos, declaring himself blessed in one photo and declaring Oprah "family" in another.

"That's a half a million dollars to encourage you to keep doing what you're doing, because what you're doing is moving in the right direction," Winfrey said in a video she posted on her Facebook Page, while surrounded by screaming students. "I saw what your great principal was doing, and I thought, what can I do?"

The Lights On program first gained notoriety last September after Cook came up with a unique idea to help students who were getting bullied for wearing dirty clothes.

He installed washing machines in the locker room, giving students who couldn't afford to wash clothes, or were missing class in fear of being bullied a reason to come to school.

“My kids feel like they don’t have anyone," Cook told “And you just took time out of your busy schedule to show me and my babies love. I’m floored. I’m truly humbled."

This is the second major celebrity to donate money to Cook's cause. Ellen DeGeneres had him on her talk show twice, giving him $50,000 on both occasions to support his "Lights On" program.

Last Modified: Monday، 20 May 2019 02:58 PM