The Spirit of Philanthropy Lives in the Popcorn Kid

Lietha Spirit of Philanthropy

Dorothy “The Popcorn Kid” Lietha shows off the poster colleagues signed congratulating her on receiving a Spirit of Philanthropy award.

It doesn’t take the wealth of Bill Gates or Andrew Carnegie to be a philanthropist. In fact, based on the root of the word, philanthropy, which means love of man, it takes a mindset of wanting to help.

Local philanthropist Dorothy Lietha sums up her philosophy in just a few words, “I do it for the kids,” she said. “They are our future.”

Lietha is receiving a Spirit of Philanthropy Award as part of National Philanthropy Day tomorrow, Nov. 19. Each year the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southern Arizona Chapter, hosts the local event, which is a special day set aside to recognize the great contributions of philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – to the enrichment of our lives, our community and our world.

The TMC Foundation wanted Lietha to be recognized as a way to formally acknowledge her extraordinary leadership and vision in support of Tucson Medical Center.

Most are surprised to hear about the accomplishments of Lietha, an outgoing 40-year employee who started in Environmental Services moved to Food Service and currently works in the Wellness department as an attendant in the TMC Optimal Results gym.

She began selling popcorn in the ‘80s near the hospital’s cafeteria as a way to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network, which benefits pediatric programs and services. As the self-described “Popcorn Kid,” Lietha originally charged 25 cents a bag, but eventually raised it to 50 cents. In addition, she occasionally would ask a company or vendor for a donation that could be raffled off, including baskets, stuffed animals, gift certificates and more.

The TMC Foundation reports that Lietha has contributed more than $40,000 over the years to support CMN and TMC’s smallest patients.

“Dorothy is an inspiration to us all,” said Erika Grasse, TMC director of Children’s Miracle Network. “She shows the power of what a single person with a big heart and dedication can do to positively impact her community.”

It’s not just the movers and shakers of a community who make a difference. The dedicated efforts of one person can be an example to us all.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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