US actor reverses hate to raise thousands for refugees

US actor reverses hate to raise thousands for refugees
The Harold and Kumar star responds to a hateful social media troll with love by raising hundreds of thousands for Syrian refugees.
2 min read
31 January, 2017
Kal Penn started the crowdfunding page after receiving a hate message [Getty]
US actor Kal Penn has turned a racist's message of hate into a huge act of generosity by raising over $800,000 for refugees.

The Harold and Kumar film series star was spurred into starting the fundraiser after a social media user told him "you don't belong in this country".

In response to the racist message, the New Jersey-born actor launched a campaign to raise funds for Syrian refugees, who are now indefinitely barred from entering the United States.

On its first day, the page raised $30,000. At the time of press, the page – entitled 'Donating to Syria in the name of the dude who said I don't belong in America' – had raised over $770,000.

"You just raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for refugees in less than 24 hours!" Penn wrote on the page after its first day live.

"This is such a testament to how proud we are of our beautiful country and how fired up we are to #resist our new president's dangerous policies with solidarity and love. Thank you! The donor page remains open, so keep it up!"  

The actor also urged his supporters and fans to support civil rights organisations in resisting Trump's discriminatory policies, as well as to contact local senators to apply pressure.

The crowdfunding page was dedicated to the social media user who sent the hateful message [Screenshot]

Speaking on CNN on Monday, the actor expressed his surprise at the huge response.

"I'm a pretty privileged guy. What about the 14-year-old me or the kids who look like me who don't have the luxury of this platform?" he said. "Maybe we can raise $25,000 and show guys like that that we're better than this."

"All I did was set up a page," he added. "It just speaks to the tens of thousands of people who felt the same way I did who said, 'Let's help some refugees out.'"

According to the fundraising site, donations will go to the International Rescue Committee, an aid organisation that is providing financial and medical support to families in war-torn Syria.

This is not the first time, however, that Penn has used his celebrity to raise funds for those in need.

Earlier this month, Penn donated $25,000 of prize money to help Palestinian refugees after winning the television programme MasterChef Celebrity Showdown.

"I chose the United Nations agency for relief and works for Palestinian refugees; $25,000 can feed over a thousand people for a year," Penn told celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay on the show.