Lifestyle & Human Interest

Ellen Hands 50K to Woman Who Put Homeless People in Hotel Rooms During Polar Vortex


As parts of the nation experienced incredible cold over the past few weeks, many people battened down the hatches, bundled up and holed up, keeping to their homes to stay warm.

That’s all well and good for those who have homes, but it caused serious issues for the homeless community. In many places, it was so cold that staying outdoors was a guaranteed death sentence.

Candice Payne of Chicago realized this and wanted to do something about it. As the owner of a spa and a realtor, Payne knows her city well and knew what the temperatures would mean for those who couldn’t get out of the cold.

With the temperatures down to -23 degrees on Jan. 29, she called her employees and told them not to bother coming in to work, since she wouldn’t be going either, but she soon started thinking about people who didn’t have the luxury of a home to stay inside of to keep warm.

There were homeless shelters, sure, but Payne was concerned that they didn’t have the resources to help everyone who needed it. So she, her husband and some friends decided to do something themselves.

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They ended up providing 30 rooms at a hotel, which she charged to her own credit card. As their story got out, donations poured in, and by Saturday night, they had enough supplies and housing for 120 people, according to Fox.

Since then, Payne has set up a GoFundMe to continue her efforts on a larger scale without depleting her own resources.

“This has driven me to a new purpose, its time to put together a more permanent solution for the homeless!!” she wrote on the GoFundMe page.

“Who wants help??” the page continued. “I will acquire property on the south side with my own money and I’m going to use Gofund Me platform to raise the money renovation so that we can provide housing for the homeless.”

“Bringing in other entrepreneurs and businesses to help provide job training and opportunities, then connecting these individuals together is my mission!”

She also has a Facebook page for her project, which she’s dubbed “Action for a Cause.” Their goals are to “Transform shipping containers into sleeping quarters for nightly shelter” and “Restore multi-unit buildings to provide a more permanent living situation for those in need.”

Payne has gotten a lot of notice and has raised about $21,000 so far. But then Ellen found out about her, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

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Of course, DeGeneres had to have Payne on her show, giving her project more publicity and helping out with her noble efforts by presenting her with $25,000 donated by Walmart.

DeGeneres was so moved by Payne’s message that she took the donation a step further by asking Walmart if they’d double the gift for a total of $50,000, which they did.

What an inspiring woman. With these generous donations and more on the way, Payne’s goals look like they’re within reach.

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