Between 2004 and 2008, the actor secretly raised almost $50,000 for a food bank in Seattle without ever seeking recognition for his generosity.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 3, 2021
Even though it's been five years since the world lost one of its most talented thespians, Robin Williams' death remains a painful memory for all his fans. Apart from the remarkable legacy he created through his contributions to cinema, the "Jumanji" star's beloved status in our hearts stems from his warm and generous spirit. While the philanthropic activities of many celebrities are often nothing more than a PR stunt, Williams' altruistic activities were never for fame. It was only after his death that many of his compassionate deeds came to light and each one of them has left us mourning the loss of such an amazing human being.
Shortly after Williams' death in August 2014, it was revealed that between 2004 and 2008 the Dead Poets Society actor secretly raised almost $50,000 for a food bank in Seattle without ever seeking recognition for his generosity. Speaking to USA Today just days after Williams died by suicide, Mike Cervino, a volunteer at the West Seattle Food Bank said, "It's threefold, actually. One because he was a great comedian. Two, because he donated here, and three because people really rely on that here."
The food bank revealed that back in 2004, Williams performed stand-up comedy at the Showbox nightclub in Seattle and donated all the proceeds from the show to the organization. Speaking of the celeb's generous contributions, Executive Director Fran Yeatts said, "I was just astounded. Robin Williams is the type of person who really understands there are a lot of people who are really, really struggling." Williams went on to donate the proceeds from shows in 2007 and 2008 as well, raising nearly $50,000 for the organization, said Yeatts.
Williams' donations could not have come at a better time because the economy was collapsing, and the organization needed all the help it could get. The celeb's deeds and the life he led has been inspirational to many across the world, including food bank volunteer Bill Bacon, who had to struggle with bipolar disorder, and understood the darkness that consumes you when depression takes over. He chose to remember the actor for the way he lived his life rather than how he ended it.
"In spite of the problems that some people have, they can still aspire to great things. I think Robin Williams is a classic example of that," he said. Bacon isn't the only one to have seen the real side of Williams up close. Aaron Ellis, another volunteer at the food bank met the actor when he came to town in 2004. He recalled how Williams openly admitted his shortcomings and was willing to relate to a regular guy from West Seattle. "He was this real guy, this regular Joe that had the same issues," said Ellis, who like the actor, suffered from depression and addiction.
"He said it was an honor for him to be able to do these things, to give back. That meant the world to me. It solidified my sobriety to this day," said Ellis. Over a decade since that memorable meeting, Ellis is still sober and prays that others suffering depression will reach out for help and that when they do, society will try harder to understand, not judge. "I realize it makes no sense, but it's what happens. This is our reality," he said at the time.