PITTSBURG — A couple hundred people benefited from one Pittsburg resident’s good deed.

A few weeks ago Pittsburg resident Michael Fienen talked to Wesley House and the Pittsburg Salvation Army to see if there was anything he could do to help.

Fienen was able to gift $5,000 total to the two facilities after being noticed by Imgur and Tito’s Handmade Vodka from a previous act of kindness. In December he used $854.80 of his own cash to be a secret Santa for the Salvation Army, where he paid for people’s Christmas shopping.

“When a place like that in your hometown has a need you have a responsibility to make it right,” he said referring to what it takes to run a charitable service and the support needed from the community.

It’s not just about providing sums of money, Fienen said. He said he encourages people to take a moment to help someone in need to help the community thrive.

“Anyone can do it,” he said. “It doesn’t take much effort.”

Tito’s Handmade Vodka launched an initiative called Project Stardust where the business awards people with money to give to charity. To find the “winner” they have partnered up with Imgur, “a community-powered entertainment platform” which Fienen is a member of.

They found out about December’s deed when he started a post called “Upvotes for the Needy.” He pledged to donate money for charity for each upvote he received — with 13 thousand votes he kept his word and spent almost $1,000 to help others.
“Having been so impressed with his efforts and the beautiful community response, we’re thrilled to announce that @thequicksilver (Fienen’s account name) is our first partner for Project Stardust!,” Titos Handmade Vodka said on its Project Stardust Imgur post.

Wesley House Executive Director and Pastor Marcee Binder a few staff members and Fienen went to WalMart and filled 12 carts with cereal, pancake mix, oatmeal, box dinners and more. An additional $125 gifted by Fienen’s friend allowed them to purchase ground beef.

“We were ecstatic,” Binder said. “It couldn’t have come at a better time.”

The food half way filled “Ellie” Wesley House’s food van.

“Because of this, our shelves are full,” Binder said. “Folks can now pick a breakfast of their choice and that is a healthy choice.”

The Wesley House’s food bank assists on average about 400 households a week. The food which was purchased will last two to three weeks.

Fienen’s donation not only brought excitement for the customers which came through the thrift store at Salvation Army, but also had an effect on the staff and volunteers.

“It was a fun day in the store,” Salvation Army Lt. Mylie Hadden said. “It kinda creates a momentum and encourages staff to get excited about getting creative through volunteering in other creative ways.”

Salvation Army Volunteer and Promotions Coordinator Ryan Urban agreed.  

“I think it was very kind of them that they thought of us,” he said.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.