Oprah Winfrey (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)

By Tribune Staff

NASHVILLE, TN — Oprah Winfrey’s doing her part to fight the ravages of COVID-19, both nationally and locally, while also giving back to one of the places she considers home. Tuesday she made a $2 million donation that will provide food relief to 10,000 households throughout the Nashville and Middle Tennessee area. It’s part of her foundation’s $12 million COVID-19 Relief fund. The fund covers areas Illinois, Wisconsin and Mississippi as well as Tennessee, targeting such cities as Chicago and Illinois as well as Nashville.

The funds are being distributed through a partnership established with two North Nashville institutions, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Tennessee State University. Nashville Nurtures is the official name of the partnership. Through their website, 10,000 households applied for and received a $200 Kroger gift card.

Various leaders in the local business and religious communities were also involved, with the leadership of TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover and Mt. Zion’s Bishop Joseph W. Walker III particularly crucial. Winfrey discussed the donations and relief fund during a conference call with area ministers last Tuesday. Bishop Walker, Dr. Glover, and Rosetta Miller Perry, Tribune publisher, were also part of the conference call.

The funds were designed for and targeted special situations, particularly people who recently lost their jobs or had salaries reduced as a result of layoffs or other staff changes. Also a significant number of households with only a single income earner were part of the group receiving assistance.

During the call Winfrey talked about how she’d learned during her longtime syndicated TV show about the number of people who could be helped through specific gift programs, saying that she now understood not only that it was good to be able to help, but that sometimes just providing the gift could be a catalyst that enabled people to have hope and continue to survive in hard times.

She also mentioned that during her early years in Nashville before becoming a star and media mogul that her first job had been providing food to Nashville residents by working behind the counter at a store in East Nashville her father co-owned.

The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation was established in 1993 and has been involved in many other philanthropic efforts on behalf of education and community service, most notably its long involvement with the United Negro College Fund, as well as helping establish an academy in South Africa.

In addition, Winfrey mentioned that in her eyes there were those who’ve yet to understand just how widespread the damage of the pandemic has been, but her response was to do what she could do for others rather than spend a lot of time trying to get those who didn’t realize its impact to wake up and recognize it. 

There are 10,000 Nashville households who are direct recipients of her initiative, as well as thousands of others across the country.