Move over, Ellen’s 12 Days of Giveaways, because Ellen DeGeneres may have just given out her most generous gift to date. The host of The Ellen DeGeneres Show made headlines on Monday when she gave away $1 million to high school athletes who had been directly affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Everything about this moment, which was captured in all its gloriousness on Monday’s episode, will leave you crying happy tears and googling where you can send a donation check; DeGeneres’ generosity is that infectious.
Here’s the 411 about DeGeneres’ major giveaway. During Monday’s episode, the student athletes of Rockport-Fulton High School volleyball team in Rockport, Texas, video chatted with DeGeneres during the show. Before they spoke with DeGeneres directly, a pretaped clip was shown of some of the players talking about life before Hurricane Harvey and what it meant to play in their high school gym, Gold Gym.
“Before Harvey, I looked forward to my senior year and being able to have those moments that every senior gets, and I kind of didn’t get those moments. But I think overall I got more out of it than I probably ever would have,” team member Allison Sanders explained in the clip. Her teammates echoed those sentiments by and large.
One of Sanders’ teammates, Carys Hawkins, couldn’t fight the tears when she explained during her interview how the devastation of Hurricane Harvey affected her and her teammates. “The moment I realized how bad it was when […] we got pictures of our gym and it was just everywhere. It was like a second home for us, and to see it destroyed was so devastating,” Hawkins explained.
Visibly moved by the pretaped interviews, DeGeneres surprised the team and other Rockport-Fulton students who had gathered in the local middle school’s gymnasium. While the Rockport-Fulton students thought they were filming a video for the show, DeGeneres cut in to chat with them (once the surprise and excitement of seeing DeGeneres had worn off a bit, that is). Grab a tissue, because the way in which DeGeneres introduces her generous gift is really something else.
“I know that your gym was more than just a gym to all of you,” she explained. “It was important to your entire community.” Then, DeGeneres went on to say that with the help of the Lowe’s Gives program, $1 million (which DeGeneres acknowledged might be the biggest donation ever made on the show) was going to go toward rebuilding the Gold Gym. Of course, the tears began to flow along with the excited cheers from everyone in that Rockport gym and, if you’re anything like me, you might have shed a couple of tears watching this all unfold too.
DeGeneres’ amazing donation is unprecedented, but it scans with the kind of charitable giving that she does regularly on her show. While she is known for the flashier giveaways associated with Ellen’s 12 Days of Giveaways, it is not uncommon to see her teaming up with various corporations and charities to give large sums of money to working mothers trying to pay their bills, to give military families a little reunion surprise and beyond. DeGeneres’ heart is one of the biggest, and she’s spreading the love each and every day.
All this generosity is next-level. If there’s one person worth emulating when it comes to showing compassion and kindness and endeavoring to give love whenever possible, it’s surely Ellen DeGeneres.