Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Broke? Just ask President Obama for help

President Barack Obama

If you have a problem, and if no one else can help, maybe you should sit down, dig out your best pen, and compose a letter to the president of the United States.

Troubled by their hard-luck stories, Barack Obama has revealed he occasionally decides to respond to cash-strapped citizens who write seeking assistance the old-fashioned way: by cutting them a personal cheque.

He won't say exactly how many he has helped; neither will he reveal how much he gave them. But he told the 'Washington Post' that charity was sometimes the only way.

"It's not something I should advertise, but it has happened," he said. "But some of these letters you read and you say, 'Gosh, I really want to help'."

Mr Obama is not the first president to lend a helping hand. Ronald Reagan, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D Roosevelt were prepared to dig into their own pockets when required.

Mr Obama's handouts were revealed by Eli Saslow, a 'Washington Post' correspondent who interviewed him.

People Mr Obama has recently helped include a woman facing bankruptcy, a fourth-grade student at one of the country's worst schools, and a cleaning woman with leukaemia who was worried about medical bills.

Mr Saslow says Mr Obama only sends cheques to correspondents when a small injection of cash can provide a quick-fix.

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