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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on MacKenzie Scott Donates Additional $1.7 Billion Through The Giving Pledge

MacKenzie Scott Donates Additional $1.7 Billion Through The Giving Pledge

MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has donated more than $4 billion in the past four months to hundreds of organizations and charities—in particular to food banks and emergency relief funds across the USA. Scott signed the Giving Pledge—an initiative sparked by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett a decade ago—and promised to give away her billions “until the safe is empty.”

This July, she began making good on her promise and has already donated $1.7 billion of her $60 billion fortune to 116 charities. Just 5 months later, the 50-year-old announced that she’d given even more money away. Since summer, the world’s third-wealthiest woman has donated more than $4.15 billion to 384 organizations in Puerto Rico and the States—taking her 2020 donations so far to $6 billion.

In a blog post that begins with an Emily Dickinson poem, Scott–a lauded novelist as well as a philanthropist—writes, “This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling. Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

Scott said she has been working with a team of advisors to help her accelerate her giving to organizations that need immediate support in the face of the COVID crisis. Using a “data-driven approach” to identifying organizations with strong leadership teams, and paying “special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital,” recipients of Scott’s funding include the YMCA, Meals on Wheels, the Global Fund for Women, civil rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, many dozens of food banks, Goodwill, and various centers of education such as Blackfoot Community College.

In the latest round of giving, Scott donated $40 million to Morgan State University, an HBCU in Baltimore. The gift is the largest single private donation in the university’s history, and roughly doubles the school’s endowment. Scott also gave $50 million to Prairie View A&M University in Texas — the school’s largest donation ever, and nearly doubling its endowment, according to the university.

According to news outlets, these donations “might be among the most ever handed out directly to charities in a single year by a living donor.” Scott is not the only billionaire who’s been giving in 2020. While Jeff Bezos has not signed the Giving Pledge, he has distributed $791 million in grant money to large environmental organizations through the Bezos Earth Fund.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Facebook Adopt A Healthcare Worker Group Started To Thank Health Care Workers

Facebook Adopt A Healthcare Worker Group Started To Thank Health Care Workers

Christine Danderand knows how hard nurses like her mother have been working during the coronavirus pandemic and wanted to do something to let them know how much their sacrifices are appreciated. Danderand, an Omaha, Nebraska, makeup artist, set up a Facebook group last month inviting people to adopt the nurses and health care workers at her mom’s hospital. She only expected her friends to see the group it has grown to more than 12,000 members in just over three weeks and hundreds of health care workers have been adopted.

To participate, nurses and other health care workers can post some information about themselves and a link to their Amazon wish lists. Adopters got busy sending box after box of holiday cheer along with heartfelt messages of thanks and encouragement. The gifts have come from grateful members of the public, doctors, who adopt entire hospital units, and even other nurses. “If you read a lot of the Amazon links, they want compression socks, or a new pair of shoes, or a coffee mug, candy,” she said. “Just little things that kind of brighten their spirits when they get home from work at the end of the day.”

She says she has been spending about four hours a day running the group and has recruited three of her friends to help. Danderand had only planned to run the group for a few weeks, but says it doesn’t feel right to stop now since it’s grown so much. She said she’s heard from a lot of people who’ve made new friends through the group. It’s not just a gifting page anymore, it’s something where they’ve got support from their peers,” she said.

One of her new volunteers is a hospice nurse and was one of the first people adopted by the group. Kris Epps-Martinez said she’s been adopting other nurses to pay it forward. “I deal with death all the time,” Epps-Martinez said. “These other nurses aren’t used to this. It’s hard on them. They deal with death, but not like this.” Epps-Martinez added “It’s simple to do and any health care worker can post and get adopted. We’ve been having them create a wish list on Amazon so that way they get what they want.”

Nurses from states all across the country are now posting and getting adopted. Danderand says it has been uplifting to see the generosity. There are currently about 200 workers waiting to get something from their wish list. Now, there’s a need for people to adopt. You can buy as much or as little as you want. Danderand said anything will mean a lot. “If I could say anything to all the nurses out there I would say thank you,'” Danderand said. Similar groups have been springing up across the country. If you want to join the movement, check your social media for local adopt-a-nurse initiatives—or start an adopt-a-frontline-worker group of your own.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Six Year Old Leukemia Survivor Delivers Gifts To Kids Fighting Cancer

Six Year Old Leukemia Survivor Delivers Gifts To Kids Fighting Cancer

A young leukemia survivor spread holiday cheer to kids battling cancer by delivering toys throughout the D.C. area. Six-year-old Summer Grace Cernoch and her family drove around the region with the gifts. Summer Grace battled leukemia for two years, spending holidays in the hospital, had several surgeries and countless painful treatments. She finished her last treatment in February.

Two Christmases, 79 port chemos, 10 blood transfusions, and a countless number of pills later, Summer Grace beat cancer. Per her request, the night she took her last chemotherapy pill the Cernoch family set off fireworks in celebration. The fireworks, however, were just the beginning of their celebration of Summer Grace’s hard-fought battle – in September they started the Summer Grace Foundation in her honor.

December 21st marked three years since she was diagnosed. “I’ve dreaded this day every year as it … just brings back a lot of bad memories for our family,” said Summer Grace’s mother, Jessica Cernoch. The Cernoch family started the foundation to help kids like her and many of the toys delivered Monday were donated by the community.

The foundation’s mission is to raise awareness, raise funds for pediatric cancer research in hopes of finding better and less toxic treatments, and support the childhood cancer community. 1 in 5 kids diagnosed with cancer will not survive. On average, 43 kids are diagnosed with cancer every day, and 7 kids die every day due to cancer or because of the effects of their harsh treatments. “We remember very vividly how awful this journey is, and so we want to do everything we can to give back and support the childhood cancer community,” her mother said.

The world changes in an instant, and things are never quite the same ever again after a cancer diagnosis. Childhood cancer effects every aspect of family life. In addition to the physical aspect of cancer, there’s often a huge financial burden, and an indescribable level of worry and stress. Life becomes physically and emotionally draining, and there’s often little energy left to focus on anything or anyone other than the child. Marriages may become strained and siblings may be left feeling disconnected from the family.

Every year, the foundation also partners with various businesses to offer relaxing, overnight retreats. Donations to the foundation can sponsor a retreat for families battling cancer. Summer Grace and her family also plan to start a music scholarship program for cancer patients.

You can support the Summer Grace Foundation through AmazonSmile. At no cost to you, you can find the same selection of products and low prices! Upon checkout, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase price to us. Simply go to smile.amazon.com, sign in, and choose the Summer Grace Foundation as your charity. Amazon will donate .05% of all eligible purchases.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on NYC Artist Buys Thousands In Art To Help Art Community Amid Pandemic

NYC Artist Buys Thousands In Art To Help Art Community Amid Pandemic

A New York City based painter bought $65,000 worth of art to help struggling artists during the pandemic. Guy Stanely Philoche whose own Abstract canvasses can command in excess of $100,000 each—began the one-man crusade in support of his fellow artists. Philoche knows all too well that earning a living as a fine artist is rarely easy in the best of times.

As pandemic restrictions tightened their hold, closing galleries and shutting down regular shows, for many, it became close to impossible. As the ability to afford the basic necessities slowly diminished, art became a luxury not many could afford. That resulted in hundreds of thousands of artists and independent creators were left without an income stream in the midst of the chaos. One of these artists was Philoche’s own friend, who just had a baby and had lost his job because of the pandemic.

“I told him, ‘Don’t worry, we’re New Yorkers. We’ve been through 9/11, the blackout, the market crash, we’ve got this,'” Philoche said. “But he was scared, so I bought a painting from him to help him get through it. It was such a big deal for him at that moment, and that’s when I realized if he’s panicking like this, other artists are too.”
The realization that so many creative people were struggling was the catalyst that spurred him to do what he could to help. “The art world is my community and I needed to help my community,” Philoche said. “People say New York is dead, but it’s far from that. There’s an artist somewhere writing the next greatest album. There’s a kid right now in his studio painting the next Mona Lisa. There’s probably a dancer right now choreographing the next epic ballet. People forgot about the artists in these industries.”

In March, Philoche posted an Instagram shout-out to artists around the world asking them send images of their work. Philoche, 43, has dedicated himself to seeking out artists from around the world who are unable to make ends meet and has so far purchased more than 150 artworks for up to $500 each. Since then, he’s spent in the neighborhood of $65,000 and purchased over 150 unique works of art from both friends and total strangers. His only criteria is that the art speaks to him.

Philoche and his family immigrated to America from Haiti when he was 3 years old. As the middle child of three boys and coming from a family of sports enthusiasts whose passion he didn’t share, Philoche turned to art as his calling. Like many immigrants, he says he learned to speak English by watching TV. He was also inspired at a young age to make drawings of his favorite Disney characters. From those early efforts, his fascination for the art that would one day become his career was born.

It took Piloche decades to achieve success, however, now that he’s arrived, the 43-year-old feels honor-bound to pay his good fortune forward. “Art saved my life,” he said. “I owe it a debt I could never repay, but the only way to really repay it is by buying other art from someone who hasn’t gotten a big break yet. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Florida Small Business Owner Pays Off Utility Bills For 114 Families

Florida Small Business Owner Pays Off Utility Bills For 114 Families

Gulf Breeze, Fla., business owner Michael Esmond donated thousands of dollars to pay the bills of 114 families who were at risk of having their utilities shut off. According to Gulf Breeze utility supervisor Joanne Oliver, Esmond paid $7,615.40 to cover the expenses of the bills, which were past-due. Holiday cards notifying the families that their utility bills have been paid will be mailed this week.

The Esmond started his giving spree last year, when he spent $4,600 to help out 36 families. This year, many of the households he paid for had bills under $100, but they were unable to make the payments amid the pandemic. “That really impacted me – that people can’t even afford to pay a $100 bill on their utilities and things are so bad. That’s why I was able to pay for 114 families” Esmond said.

“This year to me probably is more meaningful than last year with the pandemic and all the people out of work having to stay home,” Esmond, owner of Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas said. “Hurricane Sally slammed us pretty good and hurt a lot of people. We still have a lot of the blue roofs here, where they’re just covered with tarps.”

Esmond says he feels some guilt over knowing that his business did well during the pandemic, while most people have been struggling. “We’ve had a good year, and that’s why I want to share what I have with the people who need it,” he said. The 74-year-old veteran runs a pool and spa company, and he said business was good this year. Esmond could remember a time while raising his children when things weren’t so well. He couldn’t pay his bills in 1983, and his gas and electricity were cut off. “We had icicles hanging off our windows.”

Edmond’s generosity will likely alleviate some pressure for many who are struggling financially this holiday season and hopefully inspire others to act in kindness as well. His own inclination to act in such a way stems from the empathy he feels for people who are passing through difficult times. “I have been down on my luck like people are today, where I had trouble paying bills and raising three daughters,” he says. “The gas company just shut the gas off and we didn’t have any heat. . . That’s probably one of the biggest motivators for me, because I’ve been there.”

Gulf Breeze is a community of around 7,000 people, just north of Pensacola Beach. The city of Gulf Breeze has granted residents a grace period of 60 days to pay their bills due to the pandemic, but the families Esmond helped were past the 60-day mark.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Anonymous Donors Pay Off Layaways Across the US

Anonymous Donors Pay Off Layaways Across the US

This time of year, generous donors have anonymously paid off layaways to unsuspecting residents but this year that act of kindness seems far more profound given the uncertainty of the pandemic. But Christmas came early for families across the country who learned that their layaways were completely paid off, a surprise totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

Many families in Tennessee received a Christmas gift they will always remember when donors paid off layaways at multiple locations. A Walmart in Madison TN had $21,000 worth of layaway items paid for by a partnership between Pay Away the Layaway and Cottonelle Brand. The national charity makes it their mission to pay off layaway balances of children’s gifts, clothing and essentials. Lee Karchawer and Ian Bel, founder and co-founder of the organization Pay Away the Layaway, a nonprofit to which people can donate to help pay off layaway accounts at stores around the world. Karchawar started Pay Away the Layaway in 2011 after he read a story about an anonymous man who paid off $25,000 in children’s gifts and toys on layaway.

Another anonymous shopper donated $64,995.51 to pay the balance of items placed on the store’s layaway in Bristol TN. Recipients of this act of kindness received notifications that their items had been paid off, but a manager soon let them know about the magic behind it. In the nearby city of Oxford, an anonymous donor paid off the remaining $25,000 in layaway balances at a different Walmart. It was unclear if the money was donated by the same man. The donor’s primary motive “was to positively affect as many people as possible.” The Christmas cheer spread to other Walmart locations in Tennessee as well. Another location in Oak Ridge, TN had the remaining balances of 114 layaways, totaling around $29,500 paid off. According to the company, the money was provided by a check and layaway orders with toys were given first priority.

Twenty-three families at a Burlington department store in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood were surprised to find that their layaway balances were paid after a donor paid $25,000 worth of items. Servicemen and women from the Naval Station in Norfolk gathered with their families at the local Navy Exchange store to learn which one of them won a raffle to have their holiday layaway plan paid in full. Instead, the 62 families were surprised with the news they would all have their layaway plans paid off, taking home nearly $15,000 worth of items.

A Walmart Supercenter in Henrico County, Virginia had a donor pay off $50,000 in outstanding layaway balances for around 100 people. Walmart shoppers in Charlotte, NC were blessed when a donor paid off. Walmart has not officially announced the total cost of the layaway pay off but customers were told they can pick up their paid for layaway items at the Wal-Mart at 7735 N Tryon St in Charlotte. Another anonymous donor reached out to the Walmart in Hazard, KY through the Pay Away the Layaway organization and paid off the $21,000 layaway balance for 96 families.

Pay Away the Layaway is a registered 501(c)3 non profit organization. Their mission is to inspire hope and help families pay off layaway balances that include gifts for their children, such as games, toys, books, backpacks, clothes and coats. When you make a donation you become a Layaway Angel! Collectively, the foundation crowd funds donations and visit stores across the country to surprise families and make a real difference.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Toronto Bar Saved After Facebook Plea Goes Viral

Toronto Bar Saved After Facebook Plea Goes Viral

When a popular Toronto bar, called Swan Dive posted that it was struggling to pay the rent through the pandemic, customers came out to help. Owner Abra Shiner was trying to keep her pub going through lockdown by operating as a bottle shop, strictly limited to curbside pickup and delivery due to Ontario locking down again. But it was becoming very clear that the costs of trying to run that way were just too high.

She decided to be honest about her predicament on social media and her post went viral. “We were blowing through our savings and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pay rent towards the end of the month. So, I wrote on Facebook asking people to come buy the beer we had in our stock room… and it worked. The post went viral” Shiner said. Shiner’s social media plea soon had over 20,000 views, and people from all over the Brockton Village neighborhood were showing up to save beer, and their beloved bar. “Like really, if you guys don’t come buy all this beer we won’t have enough to pay our rent, YOU LIKE BEER, COME GET SOME!!!” Shiner wrote on the bar’s account while informing her customers that the bar would be closing down for a spell.

Within a few days, the Swan Dive had off-loaded almost all of its stock of craft beer. “People just started coming out of the woodwork, customers we hadn’t seen in a long time were driving in from out of town,” Shiner said, noting that more than half of the customers were new faces. “We’ve been saved, I was afraid we were going to have to go out of business,” Shiner said.

The Swan Dive carried about 35 different craft beers. The bar usually has two or three cases of each in stock. According to Shiner, she was able to sell off more than 90 cases of beer. In the end, she was left with only two in her stock room. Combined with a government rent subsidy, the money the community provided in recent beer sales will keep them going until spring when it can safely open its doors once again. “You guys are pretty darn great,” Shiner posted to the Swan Dive’s Facebook fans. “What wonderful people you all are.”

Many businesses are struggling right now and the holiday season is here. Supporting your local favorites with gift card and goods purchases may just be what keeps them running and you never know how much those sales could matter.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Over 900 Cars Paid It Forward At Minnesota Dairy Queen

Over 900 Cars Paid It Forward At Minnesota Dairy Queen

A Dairy Queen restaurant in Brainerd, Minnesota was the scene of the pay-it-forward chain that lasted nearly three days. According to store manager Tina Jensen the chain stretched over the course of nearly three days, starting on Thursday, Dec. 3, during the store’s lunch rush, and ending on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 5.

The longest chain this drive-through ever experienced was 15 to 20 cars, but in 2020 with the holiday spirit in the air, everyone wanted to keep it going. Jensen, who manages two Dairy Queen locations in Brainerd, said that the event led to about $10,000 in sales with over 900 cars paying it forward. Jensen said she was excited on December 3 when a man said he’d like to pay for the car behind him, so she gave the heart-warming news to the people in that car, and then asked if they wanted to do the same.

“If you like I can pay it forward and you can pay for the order behind you and we can keep this going,” Jensen recalled in an interview with KARE-TV. “She’s like ‘really, why would he do that?’.” That customer agreed to pass on the kind gesture and after that, the next car kept paying for whoever came next. Jensen says, “One lady, she was so excited, she threw us a 20 dollar bill almost in tears. ‘Are you serious? This is really going on?’ I said, yep, you are about 125 cars into it. She said, ‘For real, can you believe this?’”

Before Jensen left for the day, she instructed employees to let her know if anything happened to end the chain. At the end of each shift, Jensen would post an update about the chain on the restaurant’s Facebook page, and the event quickly caught the attention of social media watchers. Jensen said “The community was posting it on different pages, and the word spread,” she explained. “We heard a few different times, ‘Oh, I’ve seen it going on Facebook, I wasn’t sure if it was still going,’ and we’d tell them they were the 300th car or something and that’s where the excitement really came in. People would get very, very excited.”

Jensen said that at least one person called the restaurant and asked to put money on a gift card that could be used in case a car couldn’t pay it forward. “There would be times where people ordered a $5 Blizzard and the car behind them would be a full family getting, you know, a $30 or $40 order,” Jensen said. “To keep a chain going, you’ve got to make sure that somebody is paying it forward, and that’s what we did.” By the time the chain came to an end on Saturday evening, when a customer couldn’t pay for the party behind them and the gift card funds had run out, Jensen said that she and her staff had been excited and energized by the experience.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Chicago 7 Year Old Donates $20K To Children’s Hospital

Chicago 7 Year Old Donates $20K To Children’s Hospital

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 7 year old Hayley Orlinsky has been making colorful rubber band bracelets that she sells for $3 to $5 each. Hayley’s initial goal was to raise $200 as a fundraiser to buy personal protective equipment for a children’s hospital. So far, the endeavor has generated nearly $20,000 for Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, prompting praise and purchases from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Broadway actor Miguel Cervantes and her beloved White Sox.

It all started when she heard news stories about PPE shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic and was inspired to help. Hayley chose Lurie Children’s Hospital because she spent the early days of her life there due to a breathing problem. The money Hayley raises goes directly to Lurie through a fundraising office. Lurie hasn’t had any problems getting gear and has used the money to pay for masks, goggles, face shields, gloves and other items for medical workers and visitors, said Tracey McCusker, an associate director at the hospital’s foundation.

While many enterprising young people are raising funds for causes close to the heart, the amount Hayley has brought in is unusual. “Her fundraiser is exponentially more than our typical kid fundraiser,” said McCusker who estimates $500 to $1,000 is about average. It’s hard for the second grader to grasp how much more $20,000 is by comparison — but she figures it’s a lot. “It’s more than the tooth fairy gives,” she said. “I want to do it until coronavirus is over,” she said. “It feels like I’m helping a lot of people.”

Her mother, children’s book author Lori Orlinsky, estimates the effort has created roughly 8,000 bracelets, most of them made by Hayley. The fundraiser has been a family project: A 4-year-old sister helps organize the bands by color and both parents help mail the finished products nationwide. Family friend Alysson Bourque, who lives in Sunset, Louisiana, purchased some before joining the project, looping bracelets with her own children. “We were excited that bracelets were a symbol of hope and goodwill and brought people together in a time where people feel disconnected,” said Bourque, who also writes children’s books.

Hayley also introduced the idea at Apachi Day Camp, a summer program she’s attended for years. After Hayley’s pitch, campers of all ages were on board. “It just became a thing that everyone wanted to do,” said Beth Miller, a camp director. “It bonded the kids.”

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on College Hunks Moving Company Donates Services to Domestic Violence Survivors

College Hunks Moving Company Donates Services to Domestic Violence Survivors

A moving company announced this month a new commitment to provide free moves to victims of domestic violence and those currently living in abusive situations. Since the recent launch of the program, College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving has already completed over 100 free moves for those who are fleeing an unsafe situation in the U.S. and Canada.
This new program was launched after a rise in domestic violence reports across the country during the lockdown. College Hunks co-founder Nick Friedman explained that their company purpose is to make a positive impact on the lives of the people they help. Friedman and his team were motivated to start the domestic violence initiative when they sat down to discuss how the COVID-19 crisis might be affecting those negatively by stay-at-home orders.

They already have a program to help disadvantaged youth in vulnerable situations get access to food. For every completed job they have been donating 2 nutritious meals to Feeding Children Everywhere—with over 1 million meals donated since the program began. They decided they needed to extend their services to domestic violence victims. Friedman said “I definitely think our Free Moves for Survivors of Domestic Violence program sheds light on a really important issue that is not often talked about. As a purpose driven, socially-conscious organization we’re always looking for ways to positively impact our communities—in this case, particularly for those who feel powerless in unhealthy home situations.”

This idea was done 20 years ago, by another moving company, Meathead Movers who began offering free moves to people in abusive homes. Last year, Meathead Movers donated more than $150,000 worth of moving services, partnering with eight domestic violence shelters in Central and Southern California.

Now, College Hunks Hauling is extending the same kind of help across their 131 franchise locations in the U.S. and Canada, offering the use of trucks and labor at no cost. People who need this kind of help should first contact their local domestic violence-prevention shelter to notify them of their situation. A certified domestic violence-prevention shelter will then need to approve and coordinate the no-cost move requests through College HUNKS to ensure that the victim is supported throughout the entire transition.

Once qualifications for the free move are confirmed, the approving shelter works in partnership with College Hunks to execute the move in coordination with their local franchise owner and the local authorities, as needed, for the safety of both the victim and the assisting College HUNKS team. College Hunks has also provided trucks for transporting COVID-19 testing supplies and other medical equipment, for relocating beds and goods from one hospital to another, and delivering water to healthcare workers.

College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving was originally founded in 2003 by two college buddies, Omar Soliman and Nick Friedman who began using a beat-up cargo van to haul furniture. H.U.N.K.S. becoming an abbreviation for Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable, Service. Now, it has over 100 franchises supplying full-service, tech-enabled residential and commercial moving, junk removal, donation pickups, and labor services in the United States and Canada.

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