“There are people dying, if you care enough for the living, make a better place for you and for me.” – Michael Jackson, Heal the World

‘Heel’ Duluth, 2018

On a bitterly-cold snowy morning in Duluth, Minnesota, something magical was happening in this winter wonderland. Thanks to Michael Jackson’s generous fans around the world, branded bags declaring the name of the man who inspired the project and brimming with seemingly endless supplies were being delivered to Duluth’s Damiano Center; a community outreach centre catering for the poorest in an inner city that sees around 150 children on any given night, sleeping on the streets.

The date – 11 January 2019 – had been set by Trustees in advance, little knowing back then that this date would not only see a harsh snowstorm hit the city, but would also see fans rallying for the star’s reputation in the unleashing of a different kind of storm when, just two days earlier, Sundance Film Festival had announced that the poorly-researched so-called documentary Leaving Neverland would be added to its program.

For those who made this first of many Heel the World drives happen, and indeed the homeless children and adults receiving the supplies, there was little doubt of its significance. There was little doubt, also, that Michael Jackson was and is someone whose name is synonymous with love, with outreach and with hope.

Once delivered to the Centre, the bags were given out in Damiano’s Community Services Program as well as their Kids’ Kitchen program. Damiano volunteer co-ordinator Kyra Gustafson told us that the supplies and the bags too, went down a treat.  Meanwhile Seth Currier, Executive Director for the Centre, said that the adults who received the bags were impressed by the quality and quantity of items included. He said “staff inform me that there were many statements of ‘wow, that much!’ Similarly, the children appreciated both the bags and the additional items that were provided. I know that the stuffed animals were a big hit!”

And so it was that, thanks to the generosity of Michael’s fans around the globe and thanks to the diligence and determined dedication of MJL’s secretary Jude – who masterminded and carried out this project from beginning to end – there is hope on the streets of Duluth and smiles of the faces of the poorest in that inner city this week. Our utmost gratitude to: Michael’s tireless fans around the world for your endless generosity and trust, our loving Secretary Jude for arranging, filling and distributing the bags, Evie for helping Jude with the shopping, Jude’s talented husband Tom for the photos, the Damiano Center for allowing us to partner with them for this venture, and our amazing artist Siren for the artwork that sees Michael’s name shine across the world.

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