Justin Bieber may preparing for his first public appearance since coming off the first leg of his swarm reported Believe world tour, but the singer made time for a surprise visit to Whitney Elementary school.
Just two days before the Billboard Music Awards and on the same day that he was rehearsing, the 19-year-old dropped by the Las Vegas school to see the children and staff he made such impact on back in 2011.
To recap; Whitney Elementary school isn’t your average school. Most, if not all of the students are from either transient, poor and/or homeless backgrounds.
But they have at least one saving grace. Their principal, Sherrie Gahn.
Empathizing with the 610 students in her care, Gahn took it upon herself to ask for donations (often using her own money) to help pay for medical, household, food, dental and other costs, that the families of the children who attended her school couldn’t afford.
She asked just one thing in return, that the families kept their children in school and supported her efforts to shape children of “character” who didn’t have to let “poverty define them.”
Gahn later came to the attention of television host Ellen DeGeneres who was moved by both the principal and the school’s story and wanted to get involved.
On September 6, 2011, DeGeneres flew Gahn to Burbank, Calif., a day before she was due to appear on the ninth season premiere of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
During the emotional show, and watched by 300 of her students via a live feed from Whitney, DeGeneres presented Gahn with a $100,000 check from Target to help start an after-school program and provide services for the families. The two women stayed in touch and to this day Ellen endorses an ongoing donation program today for the school.
Enter Bieber, stage left.
On November 1, 2011, the same day his Christmas album Under the Mistletoe was released, the then 17-year-old appeared on DeGeneres’ show. The teen star announced that he was giving $100,000 to the school, a further charitable gift, and also promised to perform a holiday concert at Whitney.
Billboard reports Bieber made good on his promise, visiting the Elementary in December. As well as performing, the singer arrived with $100,000 worth of presents for the children.
Bieber also donated a portion of the sales of his Christmas album to a number of charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Pencils of Promise.
“This is the first time they’re gonna go home and want to go home for the holidays,” Gahn told the singer at the end of his visit in 2011.
On Friday, May 17, Bieber returned to Whitney Elementary bearing gifts and a smile. He also highlighted the Child Hunger Ends Here initiative endorsed by DeGeneres while he was at the school.
Now rehearsals. Thanks to Whitney Elementary and Sherrie for letting me come by again. Love u guys. U inspire me
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) May 17, 2013