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Charity from the heart – Millionaire remembers his roots

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A black millionare who has made his fortune in Silicon Valley has remembered the people who helped him on his way up by sharing his stock with them, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Anthony Parks, 41, was raised in a tough section of Oakland, Calif., and faced a difficult road to success, the newspaper says.

He had only a high-school education but was willing to work longer and harder than anyone else. His first job was at a McDonald’s restaurant, sweeping up customers’ litter.

Now, he is giving away about 30 percent of his stock in Webvan, an Internet grocery that gave him more than 250,000 shares for helping to build the business.

At the current price of $13 a share, that’s roughly $1 million.

“It isn’t the act of charity that’s so rare,” the Journal says. “Other Internet tycoons have begun donating large sums to what they believe are worthy causes. Instead, it is the intimate, hands-on nature of Mr. Parks’ giving that people find astonishing.

“In a way, it’s a throwback to the preindustrial world of two centures ago, when there were no United Way campaigns, no private foundations with program officers, no mass mailings seeking tax-deductible contributions to organizations with postal box addresses.

“There were only people in trouble – and a handful of people prosperous enough to go door to door, sharing a little of their success.”

Recipients of Parks’ philanthropy include childhood friends, single parents whose struggles reminded him of the challenges his own mother faced, and co-workers from long-ago such as chefs, dishwashers and restaurateurs.

It’s too early to know the impact of Parks’ philanthropy, the Journal says.

“But it’s clear that he has set in motion something much more complex than he ever expected,” the newspaper says. “A gesture this broad evokes more than simple thank-you notes. It causes people to reassess their own lives, and ask some basic jarring questions:

“Why is Anthony Parks doing this? What difference will it make? What does it say about his career path? And ours?”

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