Saturday, September 26, 2015

Elton Delivers 25 Millionth Open Hand Meal

Sir Elton John and his crisp band delighted Music Midtown fans with a 21-song set list on Friday night.

Earlier that day, he brought life-giving sustenance to a very special Atlanta resident.

Craig Gustafson of Midtown had been a little worried that Music Midtown traffic might keep volunteers with Open Hand Atlanta from bringing his meal. So he was not only relieved but absolutely delighted when Elton John himself rang the doorbell with his meal.

What an honor,” Gustafson said. “He’s been fighting for this cause for years and he’s beyond a celebrity. He’s an icon to us. For him to have even 10 minutes to honor me with his time, I’m just blown away.”

The Rocket Man’s surprise delivery marked the 25 millionth meal served by Open Hand Atlanta, a local nonprofit nutrition agency founded in 1988 to serve persons dealing with HIV/AIDS.

“I’m glad you’re doing well,” he told Gustafson.

John, a part-time Atlanta resident and passionate HIV/AIDS advocate, was originally drawn to Open Hand Atlanta’s mission as a volunteer in the early 90’s, and he has remained an avid supporter, delivering the agency’s one millionth meal, granting funds through the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and personally contributing to Open Hand’s recent capital expansion project.

John said he was glad to be back in his “American home” over the weekend and was pleased to spend part of his time volunteering with Open Hand Atlanta.

“The work we do every day serves as a profound example of what is possible when a community comes together to help our friends and neighbors in need,” said Matthew Pieper, Open Hand Atlanta’s executive director. “To serve our 25 millionth meal after 27 years of service is a very proud moment for all our dedicated volunteers and staff. There’s a lot of love that stands behind each and every one of those meals.”


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