Historic Donations That Sound Insane But Are Actually Pretty Useful
There are two kinds of people: Those who think people can be divided into tidy binary categories, and those who don’t. You might think generosity and going way too hard on everything you do are incompatible character traits — after all, there aren’t a lot of Red Cross nurses who ramp motorcycles on the weekends. But there are plenty of people who are both, as evidenced by some of the largest donations of some of the weirdest items in history. You might think no one could possibly have any use for, say, a literal convoy of chicken, but you’d also be wrong.
53,000 Ounces of Breastmilk
What It Sounds Like It’s For: Be honest, your first thought was that this must be a fetish thing.
What It’s Actually For: There are people who have a legitimate need for strangers’ nipple juice. Parents of babies who are allergic to formula but can’t breastfeed for whatever reason rely on milk banks, which collect donations from milkers whose own children can’t drink up their bounty, such as Alyse Ogletree. In fact, her first child refused to breastfeed, which quickly became a problem because she started producing about 130 ounces (that’s about four Big Gulps) of milk every day. She began donating, if only to keep her family from drowning in a dairy tsunami, and within three years, she tripled the record for the most breast milk donated by a single person. We all have our talents — some of us sing or dance or make weird shapes with our tongues; some of us are fire hydrants full of baby food.
2,000 Tons of Chicken
What It Sounds Like It’s For: A really elaborate prank.
What It’s Actually For: Needy families. The chicken drive, organized by the Tahya Misr Fund of Egypt, was part of a larger campaign to distribute winter clothes, blankets and food, poultry-related or not, to the country’s most impoverished villages. You could say it was a success, resulting in a massive convoy carrying 2,000 tons of chicken — not pounds, tons — like some kind of feathered Santa Claus. That sounds like a lot, but it was distributed to a million families, so that’s really only, like, two good dinners. In addition to the largest donation of chicken, the campaign also set the world record for the largest humanitarian convoy and largest “parade of trucks,” which has definitely pissed off some Texans.
10,000 Pairs of Underwear
What It Sounds Like It’s For: People who can’t afford to buy used panties from college students on Craigslist.
What It’s Actually For: The poor and non-insulated in Lakewood, Colorado. Well, it’s mostly for some guy named Ryan Avery, who seems to have made something of a career out of breaking world records vaguely related to social causes with varying levels of impact — from collecting books for children to creating a stop sign out of the same number of candles as injuries from drunk-driving accidents every year. Still, the people of Lakewood surely appreciate the injection of 10,289 pairs of underwear into their community in a single hour, donated to a local nonprofit who almost certainly doesn’t have that kind of storage space. They must have had a plan, though, because they previously teamed up with Avery to stage the largest eight-hour sock drive, an item that’s coincidentally also far more valuable used.
6.5 Million Heads of Hair
What It Sounds Like It’s For: Again, feels like a fetish thing.
What It’s Actually For: Gods and wigmakers. Venkateswara Temple collects about a ton of hair every day from Hindu pilgrims who shave it off as an offering, though the people who end up with it are only divine in the “famous drag queen” sense of the word. The temple sells the hair to wigmakers, which has helped make it one of the richest temples in the world, but the hair is technically donated by the people to whom it was once attached, so it counted for the purposes of the world record for the largest donation of hair in 1999. It’s unclear how much each wigmaker can buy, so let’s hope it arrives in the form of an enormous, terrifying hairball.
A Football-Field-Size Crochet Blanket
What It Sounds Like It’s For: Honestly, we’re coming up empty.
What It’s Actually For: Well, it started out as something Subashri Natarajan decided to do just to do. Like most 44-year-old women, she was super into crocheting, but unlike most of those losers, she wanted to prove she was the most into crocheting. She initially set out to create the world’s largest crochet blanket all by herself but quickly realized she would need about 1,000 of her to get it done, so not wanting to wait for Multiplicity technology to happen, she enlisted what can only be described as a swarm of other crochet enthusiasts. They eventually created a blanket measuring more than 120,000 square feet, which is much larger than the football field it was stretched across. After what must have been an intense squabble over who was going to take this thing home, they decided to divide it into reasonable-size blankets for charity.
But again, philanthropy was never the primary goal. Natarajan just wanted to make the biggest of something, and if someone else could benefit from it, so be it — and that’s a hustle we can respect.