Online fundraisers show love for Omar, Robin

By DAVID GUSTAFSON,

Despite being one of the poorest states in America, Mississippi consistently lands at the top of most lists when it comes to charitable giving. Not far behind is Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee.

On the other hand, some of the wealthiest states typically give the least.

New Hampshire, for example, is 9th in per capita income, but 50th when it comes to giving. Massachusetts ranks 2nd in income, but 47th in giving. Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island complete the top five.

Ever wonder why? The logical explanation is a connection between charity and faith. As a general rule, states that give the most are often the most religious. And those states that give the least are generally considered the least religious.

Maybe it’s just guilt. I happen to think the high rate of giving here not only speaks to the depth of the convictions of our people, but also to an overwhelming feeling that it’s our moral responsibility to help our fellow man.

Two perfect examples are online fundraisers currently being held to support a couple of men who have had a sizeable impact on the greater Hattiesburg community:

n Kent “Omar” Dykes is a native of McComb who first made a name for himself here in Hattiesburg in the early 1970s with his band, “The Howlers.” Along with Hugh Garraway, Danny Dozier, R.S. “Crow” Field, Jimmy Barnett, and Tommy Conner, Omar left for Austin in 1976 and quickly found his musical tribe.

An inductee of the Austin Music Hall of Fame, Omar had toured in 26 countries and released dozens of albums when a rare flesh-eating disease ravaged his upper body – essentially ending his ability to earn a living as a professional musician.

A musical fundraiser to support Omar was held last weekend at the legendary Antone’s in Austin and an online component found at: gofundme.com/benefit-for-omar has raised nearly $9,000 in just 22 days.

“I’m blessed beyond belief that people love me that much,” said Dykes in an interview with The Austin Chronicle. “It’s not lost on me. I don’t have a lot of money, but I don’t care. I’m a rich, rich man in terms of friends.”

n The Hattiesburg Post is proud to be spearheading a fundraising campaign to help memorialize the late Robin Wentworth by helping the City of Hattiesburg and the Hattiesburg Arts Council (HAC) fund the completion of a planned family-friendly, musically-themed art installation planned for downtown Hattiesburg.

When completed in late September, the “Jook Joint” will provide an interactive place for music fans of all ages to gather to listen – and make – music.

Wentworth, who was an avid music fan, died in June following a very public battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Donations to support the downtown project in Wentworth’s memory can be made at: crowdrise.com/rockin-robin-campaign

As far as I know, Dykes and Wentworth never met one another, but they both made the most of their time in Hattiesburg and both of these online fundraising efforts are worthy of your support.

Gustafson is the not-so-mild-mannered editor/publisher of The Hattiesburg Post.