SALT LAKE CITY — Right before Thanksgiving, Salt Lake Tribune data columnist and Utah Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen sent out a tweet that changed more than 100 Utahns' lives — and probably his in the process.
The tweet was simple: He cashed in his jar of coins for close to $200 and wanted to see who needed a little help with Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas gifts. While some people tweeted out suggestions of charities or people in need, something bigger happened: People started asking if they could get in on the good deed. His $165.84 became almost $55,000.
So I had a big jar of coins hanging around. I went to the bank today & had them counted. $165.84.
Rather than keeping it, I want to give that out to a few people who could use the help for their household's Thanksgiving dinner or for Christmas presents. My DMs/replies are open.
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 23, 2020
Now, a few weeks later, Larsen is letting everyone know where the money has gone.
“I wanted to find a way to distribute the money that made it, that kind of met the original goal of why people sent the money in the first place, which was to help Utahns who needed help for whatever reason,” he said.
The money was donated by everyday people on social media, and each person in need was vetted by Larsen. About 160 Utahns were gifted between $100-$1,500 based on their needs, Larsen said.
“To be able to say, ‘Hey, how many kids do you have that we can help out with Christmas?’ or ‘What is your power bill like?’ or ‘How close are you to eviction and how can we prevent that?'” he said.
It made a difference in these people’s lives.
“We did save people from eviction. We gave people the ability to have hot showers again,” he said.
As a data columnist, it comes as no surprise Larsen documented each conversation, donation and category and printed it all so everyone can see. You can read the full story on how Larsen distributed the money here.
Some ways you can help, according to Larsen’s research: