Comedian Kevin Hart was in Newark Friday for two reasons: the first, for a show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
The second reason, however, was serious business: the “Laugh at My Pain” star was also here to deliver a $100,000 donation destined for Newarkers struggling to cope in the wake of Hurricane Sandy early last week.
“I didn’t just want to come here and do a show,” said Hart, who presented his donation to Mayor Cory Booker at CityPlex 12 on Springfield Avenue.
Hart, a native of North Philly, said he considers the people of New Jersey and New York City neighbors, and felt compelled to help when he saw just how serious the devastation was throughout the region.
“This is a way to stand up for the population I love,” he said.
Half of Hart’s donation came in the form of gift cards for stores like Target and Home Depot, and the other half as a check to the Newark Fireman’s Charity Fund, which is “doing an amazing job helping those affected by the storm,” Hart said.
Booker commended Hart for giving the city not just material but “spiritual” support during a difficult time.
“It’s extraordinary. This is a guy who has no familial tie to Newark....it gives a charge to the whole city.”
Hart’s appearance did provide a welcome distraction from the cares weighing on many city residents right now, including Rakim Ben, who was at the theater Friday with his wife, two daughters and granddaughter.
LIke many in Newark, Ben has been coping with his own challenges resulting from Sandy. A tree fell on the driveway of his South Ward home and he was unable to get to work for four days. Despite that, however, he and his family pitched in to volunteer with efforts coordinated by South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka.
Even with so much on his plate, however, Ben couldn’t resist the chance to see the famed funnyman in person.
“We heard Kevin Hart was going to be here so we came right down,” Ben said.
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