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93-year-old in Florida raises nearly $37,000 for families struggling amid pandemic

Posted at 11:17 AM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 14:17:29-05

LARGO, Fla. — While many of us have spent the year wishing things were better, 93-year-old Virgil Sweet has spent the year trying to make it better.

Sweet started by giving away his $1,200 government stimulus check.

"I thought, 'I don’t really have a need for that so I’m going to give it to someone who does,'" said Sweet.

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ABC Action News did a previous story in May to help Sweet get the word out that he was asking people impacted by the pandemic to write him letters about why they needed the money. That story reached people all over the country. Letters poured in from people who needed help and Sweet picked one family to get his check.

"I found a lady who has two children. One of them is autistic and she has brain cancer so she got the $1,200," said Sweet.

But Sweet couldn’t stop thinking about the other heartbreaking letters. So he asked others to donate their checks to help.

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"We did it the old fashioned way, snail mail. We didn’t use email. We didn’t use TikTok or any of that stuff I don’t know anything about," said Sweet.

Sweet got donations from California to Pennsylvania, from Alaska to Florida.

He raised $36,780 for more than 60 families across the country — and he did it from the comfort of his own home using mail as his main source of communication.

Sweet says there are still many people in need and he hopes his story shows people you can make a difference no matter what age or what tools you have.

"You just have to have the passion to help people and you can do it from sitting in your own home," said Sweet.

This story was first reported by Wendi Lane at WFTS in Tampa Bay, Florida.