Oprah Winfrey has a reputation for being a generous giver, but now one Newark High School knows first-hand just how charitable the media mogul can be. On Friday night, Winfrey stopped by West Side High School and surprised principal Akbar Cook with a donation of half a million dollars.
The money is designated for the school’s Light’s On program that allows students access to a safe place on Friday nights. Each week, kids eat, play video games, basketball, and participate in other activities until 11p.m. thanks to Cook’s efforts. During the summer, the one-night-a-week program changes over to three.
Winfrey’s gift allows the school to keep its lights on all summer. Cook considers the act a gift of love. “Love is powerful; you cannot underestimate the power of love. They’ve been showing my kids and me and this community that they love them, and it’s gone a long way,” the Newark native told CBS News.
According to ABC7, the New Jersey principal has not lost a student to gun violence since starting the initiative last year. He also says there has been an increase in daily attendance since making other investments in the school. Last summer, West Side installed a laundry room. Absenteeism has been on the decline since.