Looking to the Boss for the Greater Good: Bruce Springsteen-Inspired Charities

Springsteen’s philanthropic efforts over many years have inspired a slew of local charities, including these five fan- and friend-launched initiatives.

Bruce Funds
Founded: 2012
Mission Statement: For those suffering financial hardships, who can’t afford tickets to see Springsteen perform live, fans crowdsource funds to purchase a ticket to a local show on the requester’s behalf.
How It Works: A fan in financial straits, often due to illness or job loss, is nominated through the website, Brucefunds.org, and the nonprofit’s pay-it-forward model scouts for extra tickets available for donation. The request can come from any U.S. city.  “Before GoFundMe existed, people just pooled their money,” says Donna Gray, the patron saint of Springsteen fans and founder of Bruce Funds. “One of us would have a PayPal account, then on the [concert] sale day, someone would buy one extra ticket for the person in need. We all trusted one another despite having never met face-to-face.” Tickets to Springsteen’s Broadway run, however, are off the table for now. Says Gray: “It’s even further out of the league of an average concert ticket.” Instead, she encourages those inclined to chip in to redirect those funds to Springsteen-endorsed charities, like the Kristen Ann Carr Fund, which aims to aid in the fight against sarcoma. (brucefunds.org)

Light of Day Foundation
Founded: 2000
Mission Statement: Named after the title song written by Springsteen for the 1987 movie starring Michael J. Fox, and inspired by Springsteen friend and local music manager Bob Benjamin’s own battle with Parkinson’s, the benefit concert series raises money for research of the neurological disease (it has collected $4.5 million to date).
How It Works: Proceeds from ticket sales to the benefit are funneled directly to Parkinson’s-related causes supported by the foundation. In its nascent years, Light of Day was a one-night-only event in Red Bank, N.J., but it has expanded to performances across North America and in Canada, Europe and Australia. In addition, a 10-day festival is held each January in Asbury Park, featuring the likes of Jakob Dylan, Lucinda Williams and Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers. Although Springsteen is never officially listed on the bill, he has appeared at 11 of the last 17 shows. Says Light of Day Foundation executive director Tony Pallagrosi: “Bruce has been instrumental in allowing us to exist, be productive and to grow.” (www.lightofday.org)

Hungry Hearts Recipes to the Rescue
Founded: 2015
Mission Statement: A recipe book that fights hunger — a cause close to Springsteen’s heart, though he’s not affilliated with the group in any way — all of the net proceeds go to Whyhunger.org, the organization founded by Bill Ayres and the late Harry Chapin.
How It Works: Founders Candy Dawson and Annette Dam curated fan-submitted recipes (and photos with a “food or rock ’n’ roll theme”) and compiled them for a book published in September that’s been praised by members of the E Street Band’s extended family — including the late Clarence Clemons’ son, Nick, and guitarist Nils Lofgren’s wife, Amy. “The response has been tremendous,” says Dawson. “The community of Springsteen fans are selfless and willing to lift each other up.” (hungryheartrecipestotherescue.yolasite.com)

Brucebook for Fulfill
Founded: 2016
Mission Statement: A crowdfunding initiative launched through Facebook fan page BruceBook, it aims to raise money and awareness for Fulfill, a food bank covering Monmouth and Ocean counties and the approximately 30,000 needy families who reside there.
How It Works: On Springsteen’s 67th birthday, John Kelly, executive director and founder of BruceBook, and Kathy Sturzione Esposito, executive assistant administrator, raised $9,000 in a social media campaign. The following year, they launched an online auction for “Springsteen on Broadway” tickets; autographed drum kit items from Max Weinberg and Vini Lopez; a signed copy of Springsteen’s autobiography, “Born to Run”; plus signed prints by Springsteen photographers Danny Clinch, Barry Schneier and Debra Rothenberg. With Springsteen having turned 68 on Sept. 23, the group has already collected $13,000 for 2017. (https://one.bidpal.net/Brucebook2017/welcome)

Stand Up for Heroes
Founded: 2007
Mission Statement: This benefit held in conjunction with the New York Comedy Festival has raised nearly $40 million for the Bob Woodruff Foundation to provide aid for wounded military veterans, service members and their families.
How It Works: The annual event draws top comedy talent — and Springsteen himself — to New York’s Theater at Madison Square Garden. The 2017 lineup includes Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah and Conan O’ Brien, and is scheduled for Nov. 7. (sufh.bobwoodrufffoundation.org)

Honorable Mentions: Spring-Nuts Seaside SerenadeBroadway Cares

Michele Amabile Angermiller is a New Jersey radio personality who can be heard weekdays on 107.1 The Boss.

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