Hannah and Joseph Salwen

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/05/hannah.blog.jpg

caption=”Hannah and Joseph Salwen convinced their parents to sell their home and donate half the sale price to help Africa’s poor.”]

Some people joke and say you can never be too rich. Hannah and Joseph Salwen aren’t those people. The brother-sister duo looked around their family’s self-described mansion in Atlanta, complete with an elevator and library, and said, “This is too much.”

After Hannah saw a homeless man while driving with her family, she realized that she had too much while others don’t have food or other essentials she took for granted. The 15-year-old corralled her 13-year-old brother to ask their parents to sell their home and downsize to something half the size. They also wanted mom and dad to donate half the proceeds of the nearly $1.8 million asking price to The Hunger Project.

Their mom almost fainted at the thought of giving up her dream home. I spoke to their entrepreneur dad and he admittedly was hesitant to sell during a buyer’s rather than a seller’s market in this economy. But, both caved, realizing that they raised the kids they always wanted — socially responsible, self-sacrificing leaders who are rich with the desire to serve.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview

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159 Responses to Hannah and Joseph Salwen

  1. Gaurav Varma says:

    I fall short of words to explain what’s going through my mind as I ponder through this thought of selling your dream house and donate for the under privledge, I wish we have more such people in this world. I am a urban youth and work for a large Corporation in New Delhi, I see Poverty every day in India , like not seen may be any where , I am so proud to know about this… and hope one day I can do the same… or rather must say I should start doing what ever i can in the capacity i am ,,,, thank you,,,

  2. J Clipson says:

    I only wish that our wealthy politicians and corporate executives could be this socially responsible. We could all learn quite a bit from this family.

  3. Josie says:

    A breath of fresh air. The downsizing of your home and sharing the profits with others who have little or nothing is impressive! We all could benefit by sharing our abundance with those in need. Bravo,
    you are doing a great job! How liberating!

  4. Jim Round says:

    It is nice for the dad to let the kids take the credit for this. Unforced redistribution of wealth is a rarity these days. There is such a gap between the haves and the have-nots and the gap is getting bigger and bigger. It is nice to see this family realize they earned most there money on the backs of hard working people and giving some back. Hopefully the money will be used for good instead of lining the pockets of charity administrators.

  5. Alice Jones says:

    This is great but I fear the tax breaks for them will increase with this donation. I am glad they did this, but really this is the 5% of the country who Bush/McCain/Palin take care of.

    Their children however have the right idea and I am sure that the daughter will go on to great things to help people less fortunate that her. Kudos to the children they are our future!

  6. Snappy says:

    Of course these kids have no problem giving away someone else’s money. Their blood, sweat and tears didn’t go into earning the funds necessary to buy and maintain the home. This is so typical of what is going on in society today. The working folk are getting taxed by the govt so the next generation and spend it away….how about they give away their money and leave mine alone!

  7. zack says:

    Great family, we hope there is more people will think same way

  8. Brett Tietz says:

    This is a great example of what all American youth should be like. I just wanted to say that for young people who read this article, you don’t need to donate almost 1 million dollars to help. Every little donation counts and matters to the poverty stricken families in third world countries.

  9. Daniel Reyes says:

    I just want to say to this family that they are more than Americans, they are Heroes. I mean, giving up the very same thing that most people spend their entire lives looking for is an absolutely noble deed. And what makes it a noble deed is the bravery and the unselfishness coupled by the desire to help other fellow human beings, it’s just extraordinary. This is an outstanding American family, so long as families like this exist in this country, the U.S. will still be above all in the world. way to go!

  10. chad says:

    i have never commented on any article before. in the chance that the family read’s this..good for you!! The world needs more people like them.

  11. NoPeaceIn Silence says:

    Hannah and Joseph Salwen, those kids prove that in these times, sometimes the young show more wisdomt than some adults who knnow nothing but to bicker and blame everyone else for the world’s troubles. I am from the Philippines, and I think if their wish and plans go succesfully Hannah and Joseph have done more than half the congress here

  12. Carolyn says:

    God has truly blessed our world with this family.

  13. Dre says:

    I think it’s great that these children want to help people.

    If the child saw a homeless person in her own town, city, state, country, why would they send funds to Africa/The Hunger Project.

    I’m disappointed that they are not helping people in their own community and their own country first.

  14. Jim says:

    I heartilly agree with Gaurav, even though I live in Canada I too see hardships and poverty here.
    How about some of the large oil corporations donating some of their “obscene” profits to the same causes.

  15. Susan Peters says:

    every so often, I read something which lights up my day–a ray of hope in dark times. This has reinforced my belief that the hope of the country lies with its young people, and with the conscientious parents who are raising them.

  16. Barbara Percival says:

    this is fantastic……………..to think the kids and parents are willing to down size.

    has to be exceptional parents. most of us don’t live rich.

    material things don’t give us happiness (but lots of people think so)

    since my mom died i saw she didn’t take any thing with her..an eye openere.

    thank you for being special barb

    i’m a mom ,gma, great gma, foster mom and 77yrs.

  17. K. Merrill says:

    I wish people like the Salwens got more attention. It’s nice to see thoughtful, selfless teens instead of the materialistic teens we often see on shows like “Sweet Sixteen” (or anything else on MTV)! The Salwens are a model for not only their peers, but society as a whole. It’s so refreshing to see those who are fortunate helping those who are not as fortunate. Kudos to CNN for putting these wonderful people in the spotlight!

  18. tim says:

    A good hart needs no gold.

  19. Adam Wickham says:

    It’s nice to see that money didn’t change these people. Millions of families are struggling to make it and put food on the tables while many rich sit and do nothing. It’s great that there are people like this still out there. So thankful.

  20. Julie says:

    All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

    With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.

    There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales

    and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Act4:32-35

    If we could all live like this and believe Christ is the only answer what a wonder world we could have.

  21. Atreyee Ray says:

    A few more big hearts and open minds like that of these kids and their parents will make the world a saner place to be in. Young minds are more or less free of greed and desire for more, more AND more – yet it is great that these kids thought of bringing up this thought with their parents, it is even more admirable of the parents to materialize the thoughts through this noble deed.

    My husband and I constantly see people building huge homes and mansions to live in and have only 1 thought – even 5% of the money they put in there for living fancy can help feed and provide shelter for 5-10% of the population in any of the third world countries of the world.
    Not just that, the grandiose(the billions of dollars) associated with building religious structures these days completely freaks me out. I definitely think that God would rather want that money to be used for some noble cause that can uplift the lives of millions.

    I would always remember this family as an example and hope that some day I have the ability to perform a similar deed.

  22. Dawn Ziegler says:

    The parents of these teens should be so proud of them.
    I know I would be if they were my kids.
    Awesome story!

  23. spa says:

    So Hannah’s only ever seen ONE homeless person and THAT was enough to flip a switch and convince her parents to sell their mansion? What a bubble these people must live in.

    So the parents raised the kids they always wanted. Which in turn served as role models for the parents. Good lord.

  24. Daniel says:

    These children are really wonderful — and hats off to the parents. It’s wonderful that we have some youth or bringing their parents ’round to the cause of social justice. I had a friend in his 20’s do something similar. He sold his house, gave a bunch of money away, took a vow of poverty, and now volunteers 50 hours a week at a homeless shelter. (You can read about his story at lifewidealive.com.) I don’t think I could ever be quite as self-sacrificial as these people, but hopefully I’ll get there eventually!

  25. Claudia says:

    These people are truly awesome and our country should have more like them. Think of the problems that could be solved. Thank You for raising such wonderful children.

  26. Arig Wageeh says:

    What an honorable thing to do…and to come from such young students. The world needs more people like you!!! And remember, what you give, you will get in return tenfold…So just be ready for even greater success in the future! God Bless.

  27. Liz says:

    I wish there would be more unselfished kids in this world. Be proud of your kids. If we had more kids like yours maybe this world would be less stressful and maybe we would have kids with more respect for others, and this world is not always about “me” me”.

  28. Jeff Carson says:

    I think the “kids” should work, earn and give from their profits to their favorite charity. Taking money from their parents “to donate” does nothing for them personally. It sounds like the government by redistributing someone else’s wealth. Mom – hang on to your dream house.

  29. Mika Ah Loe says:

    The world would be a better place if all the rich teens out there follow Hannah and Joseph. The parents have to be very proud to know they have done a great job raising their children. Thank you Hannah and Joseph for giving and sharing your wealth with your brothers and sisters who are not lucky as you are.

  30. Kristen says:

    What an incredible lesson these children have taught their parents and peers and what an incredible set of parents to agree to it. By agreeing to these children’s request, the parents have completely solidified the most valuable life lesson – respect for other people. Nicely done, Salwen family.

  31. J Murphy says:

    Wow. This is an amazing story, and certainly one that brought tears to my eyes. It’s nice to know that giving and responsible children, like Hannah and Joseph, are our future! I certainly do not own a $1.8 million mansion, but I hope that I can raise my daughter to be as giving and caring as Hannah and Joseph!

  32. Brenda says:

    You do rock! This is the kind o f story that should be on the evening news. Not the garbage that is constantly shown to us that depresses rather than lifts us up and inspires us to make a difference in the world for the good of all men and women. Jesus told us we must do for the least of us as did Gandhi when he said to be the change in the world that you wish to see. Thank you for your kindness and your example. You better us all by your selflessness.

    Brenda Bailey

  33. Mark Morphy says:

    Wow! What a great tribute to the wonderful youthof today.These parents have raised their children in light and truth.Not that this matters but I’m a big believer in the more you give the more you get.By that i mean the joy and assurance that you are truly helping your fellow mankind.God bless this family.

  34. Jon G. says:

    It is perhaps laudable for such individuals to give up their “dream home” to help alleviate hunger, but I think the larger point is missed. After all, thousands (perhaps millions) of people help the disadvantaged every day in many, many ways. And to the extent that the father is indeed an entrepreneur he will have a far, far greater impact on alleviating hunger in the world than their donation, grand though it be (greater then any charitable donations for that matter.)

    It is commendable that people turn away from the conspicuous consumption that consumes (pun intended) much of the developed world, but better for the sake of themselves than for others. To describe people as “self-sacrificing leaders who are rich with the desire to serve” is not a compliment.

  35. Joelle Niedecken says:

    Kudos to Hannah and Joseph!!!!!!!!! … (Mom and Dad, too!!!!!!!!) :o)


    You All ROCK!!!!!!

    Joelle Niedecken

  36. Julie says:

    Just this morning I have read about two young coward thugs who beat, almost to death, a elderly woman for her money. I read about a young teen who, with his mother’s help, murdered a 13 year old gang member. I read about a young 16 year old girl mouthing off to an adult male and that “adult” male punched her for it. Then….just as I was getting disgusted with our young people and the “adults” who are supposed to be examples, I read about this family and their remarkable children! How selfless, how giving and wonderful they are. These children are a credit to their parents. All parents reading this…..you reap what you sow.

  37. Wendy says:

    Wow, what a blessing! You both have raised some great kids 🙂 It is wonderful to know that there are still young people that are seeing outside their comfort zone and providing to those in need.
    To the parents, I commend you both for listening to your children
    and for providing a great atmosphere of communication and respect.

  38. Andrew says:

    Good start, but not sure if donating helps anyone. Wouldn’t it be better to invest the money so that other people can make their own money? Or set up a bank and provide low interest loans to poor folks?

    Don’t give them fish, teach them how to fish so they can get their own fish and build their self-confidence. Money that isn’t earned through hard work often disappears quickly.

  39. Tim says:

    Really? Thats thinking with your heart instead of your gut. What a waste of money.

  40. Curtis says:

    If more people helped each other out like that, we’d be a lot better off.

  41. John says:

    Wow this is the kind of selfless contributions and actions you look for in your proclaimed leaders of the world. It’s really amazing when teens can see that one mansion is too much for them, when you have a guy four times their age that can’t . In fact is not even willing to part with one of many; and to add insult to injury he’s even looking to add another ( 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 ) to his realestate capitol. ” Guess it puts in perspective who our real leaders are. Thanks Hannah and Joseph Salwen.


  42. Krista Andrade says:

    This is great! KUDOS and many thanks to this family for setting a unforgettable example of compassion, goodwill and contributing to those less fortunate then themselves. Can you imagine how such giving could change our world? If others who could do more, would do more, this world would be a better place. GOD BLESS all of us 🙂

  43. Mary B. says:


    THIS is the change we want to see in the world.

  44. Helen says:

    On a day when I was feeling a little sad thinking about all the greed and selfishness amoung my fellow Americans (You spa-going AIG executives should be ashamed of yourselves!), and then I come accross something like this. Your family is something very special – your children, yourselves. Wow.

    and thanks

  45. Ghill says:

    Surley God is looking down and saying ‘Well done’. Your rewards will be great in Heaven.

  46. Elizabeth says:

    What these two kids are doing is great.
    If my family had as much money as they do, we would probally do that to.
    But haaaa.
    I live in Michigan so theres not so much money around right now.
    I think its a really great idea.

    ( :

  47. Sara Beauleau says:

    I’m impressed. We in America (and other countries as well) who have the big houses, big cars, extravagant vacations…take a look at how self centered that life style is! It’s not only socially irresponsible, it’s indicative of the level to which they partake of our natural resources. How much electricity do they take? Oil and gas for heat? And how many vehicles to they have using gasoline, releasing toxins into the atmosphere? Get real. Downscale. Politicians first, the fat cats who chomp on all of us.

  48. Renee says:

    God bless you all! I hope this is the beginning of a much needed change for all…..

  49. Ginny says:

    Congratulations, you have done something some people only dream to achieve – only more, you gave back! You should be very proud, you have listened to your children and they have brought your family back to what’s important. You have given our society two well rounded young adults who will help lead this nation back to where it belongs. We should all listen to the younger generation, their ideas and untainted spirit will guide & give us hope for the future! Thank you.

  50. I.G. says:

    This is the best news I have heard in such a long, long time. Those kids have a good heart and so young! They have so much promise with that kind of mentality too. This is wonderful.

  51. Chad says:

    Couldn’t they just have hired the homeless man they saw to mow the grass and do landscaping or something? Were his legs broken? (could’ve been the case) It seems like there is a distinction between giving and helping. Remember the parable, give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

  52. Chris says:

    It is not often that you see this kind of caring and good in the world, especially from individuals as young as Hannah and Joseph. I think that the parents should be very proud of the job that they have done raising their children. We live in such a materialistic world and I think it’s important that we realize that material items are not what’s most important in the world. Those who have been successful have much to be thankful for. It’s not to say however, that those who work hard should not enjoy nice things. Instead, I think that good things happen to people who work hard and those who have had success should help the less fortunate. Not many teenagers would give up a multi-million dollar mansion, and not many parents would give up their dream home. Hannah and Joseph are great examples of how there is hope for the future of America and how we can make this world a better place. Hopefully others will follow their example and we can transform our society into a less materialistic one.

  53. Pete E Wheatstraw says:

    Wow, I’m stunned. After driving around and seeing homeless in their own country these kids decide to convince their family to donate half the value of their house to Africa??? Real responsible. Why not donate to feed the homeless in their own community?

  54. Amy says:

    I am humbled and awed. Even though these children are wonderful I really have to give credit to the parents, not only for going along with it, but for doing such an amazing job as parents. It’s the biggest challenge in the world to raise commpassionate, caring children who care for others more than themselves and these two have done it, not once but twice. Very well done.

  55. Smiley says:

    Hannah and Joseph should be in the White House at least they would help the people and not the CEO’s taking the 100’s of millions in bonues, severance, stocks..ect.ect. I try to do the same when I go to Mexico and see homeless and less fortunate kids working for a dime and I hope one day someone helps me out with my mortgage when I’m in trouble….which shouldn’t be too long. Thanks for helping the unfortunate.

  56. Em says:

    I think it was harder for the parents, because they are giving what they earned. I’m curious to know if the children will do the same when they grow up

  57. Tom says:

    You made your parents sell their dream house? Really? I don’t think that was such a great thing to pressure them to do. Then after you did that you had them take hundreds of thousands of dollars out of our failing economy. Not only do I feel that you don’t deserve to be recognized as doing something good but I think you owe your parents a big apology and should realize that you have just done exactly what nobody should do if you want to see the economy strengthen. Way to go.

  58. Thomas says:

    The Salwen’s are great Americans and deserve praise for thier generosity, but why Africa? What about 10M+ children starving in this country ? Why is it that we are so eager to help people over seas when ther are so many Americans in need?

  59. Thomas says:

    The Salwen’s are great Americans and deserve praise for thier generosity, but why Africa? What about 10M+ children starving in this country ? Why is it that we are so eager to help people over seas when there are so many Americans in need?

  60. Matt says:

    There is the answer to the question…….what would Jesus do? Great job kids and way to go mom and dad!

  61. Laetitia L. says:

    That is soooooo good to hear! This is what should be on nightly news instead of just bad news. What the 2 of you did is amazing, and when you do good for others, it will roll back around to you!

  62. Casandra says:

    It’s all well and good, but why are these Americans donating their money to Africa? The reason the girl had a change of heart was because she saw a homeless man in Atlanta, GA USA…what about that poor schmuck? Way to go spoiled rich kids.

    Help out your own neighbors before you get publicity for helping out Africans.

  63. Peter says:

    I think that it is great that they convinced their parents to sell their house. But in terms of sacrifice, I don’t see much there from the kids. It is easy give away someone else’s hard earned work from a distance. However, true community building is a dirty job. Nonetheless, it is a start and their motivation is in the right place.

  64. S Adams says:

    This is the best story I’ve heard all week. You’ve raised your children well and I commend you!

  65. Jenn Astle says:

    Now THAT is hope for the future. I commend these children for having that complex of an understanding of their circumstances. In the current state of affairs so many kids just want their video games, Iphone and television, while never really having to work for anything. These kids are role models for the rest of America, young and old. Perhaps John McCain could learn a thing or two…

  66. Andrea says:

    I think it’s wonderful the wiliness of today’s youth to realize they have more than needed when others are suffering. However I do find it interesting the donation is going to help Africa’s poor. After all what prompted the idea was a homeless man seen by the daughter on a drive with her family. What about Americans who are suffering in our country today??? Maybe the donation should have gone to a charity to help the homeless in their community!

  67. Adam says:

    It’s great that these kids are so conscientious, but I don’t agree with the follow through. If Hannah feels a conviction to help the needy then she should look at her own contribution – her time, her allowance, her career path. Dad’s money and conscience is his business. The kids aren’t self-sacrificing, they’re giving their dad’s money away and receiving some good pub in return. Don’t mean to be a wet rag, but I read this and see pushy kids and spineless parents.

  68. YumYum says:

    This is being the “hands and feet of Christ”. Hopefully they realize it. If not, maybe now they’ll want to know him better.

  69. Nunyo Bizness says:

    I wish they were donating half to the hungry/homeless in the USA, not Africa.

    I feel the same way about our government. Take care of the major issues at home before spending our future elsewhere.

  70. Renee Hairston says:

    This is absolutely astonishing. I am so proud of the citizens that their parents raised. Great job kids but more importantly FABULOUS JOB parents for raising such wonderful self serving kids.

  71. Deborah Woodley says:

    This story is amazing. In this world of “me first” it is very refreshing to read about young adults that are so socially oriented. Our university just finished, as part of the freshman reads program, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, and some of the comments by the students echo what Hannah and Joseph have done. Kudos to them for taking action and to their parents for following through. My best to the whole family.

  72. José Ponce says:

    You guys rock are words that don’t even begin to fairly describe what I think of you and what you did. I wish there would come a day when acts like yours would be as common as a hand shake, that it would be just expected from people to do these things, but until that day you’ve given this country a glimpse to the society that we should aspire to be, thank you so much for you example and generosity, I hope to see you continue to spread the word, may you all live a full life of happiness and blessings.

  73. Sister Helen Phillips says:

    Dear Hannah and Joseph ,
    I just finishe reading about you convincing your parents to sell your wonderful house and donate much of the proceedings to the Hunger Project. I think you are WONDERFUL and I congratulate you! Your parents can be so very proud of you. They certainly have raised you well that you would even think of asking for such a sacrifice.
    Yes, when we see someone who is really poor it stirs something inside of us and makes us consider what we have over and above what we really need to live. The youth of our country can truly show us all the way to peace and generosity
    I am a Catholic missionary Sister. I have worked for many years in the jungles of Bolivia and in the high Andes in Peru among extremely poor people. It has been such an honor and joy and privilege to have been able to help those who lacked just about everything. You, too, will experience that joy with what you have done in selling your house and helping the poor and the hungry.
    May God bless you both along with your parents.
    Peace and prayers,
    Sister Helen Phillips, M.M.

  74. jyoti says:

    this is a great story to inspire other people to do their bit for the world. all of us can contribute – some thru money, some thru kind and other thru labor. so there is really no excuse to say no.

    i am very much inspired by what the salwen family did. hats off!!!

  75. steve says:

    What wonderful people!!!!

  76. Marcus S. says:

    I’m surrounded in a state college which has hordes of college students who would rather die than lend a dollar to, much less sell their measly McMansions, and use part of the earnings for donating to the homeless who had no control over their situation. But seeing these two individuals in my age bracket doing something as charitable as this gives me at least a slim hope that our generation (Gen Y) does have a plentiful amount of charitable, selfless, and considerate individuals. God bless Hannah and Joseph Salwen!

  77. Adam DeLay says:

    Simply Amazing.

    I have to admit even though I’m only 22, it stories like these that make me question the selfishness I have in my own life. I don’t have much, in fact some could say I live bearly above “poverty” level, its hard sometimes to see past money sometimes and It is so inspiring to see young people who have money willing to simply give it up.

    Your story was again, nothing short of Amazing.

  78. Art says:

    Mom and Dad you should be proud of your kids!!
    They are what we Americans have been looking for in our Congress! Take care of our people and the homelss for someof those homeless are kids that need help. We all at one time or another have been down on our luck and someone out of the blue gave us a helping hand. Too bad the goebernment doesn’t think like that.

  79. Carolyn Edgar says:

    This is a great example that every one needs to hear about. I heard about an entire church that committed to doing the same thing, downsizing their homes. If we all just took inventory, I believe we would wipe out need. It just goes to show that those with a really big heart, can do reallly, really big things.

  80. Melissa says:

    What a commendable act on both the children and the parents. I hope I can raise my 2 kids in the same manner!

  81. Tanisha says:

    These children will be BLESSED the rest if their DAYS!!! Grown adults should take note of these young angels. This is what the LORD wants people to do. Take a look at your life and see others less fortunate and sacrafice.
    Peace and Blessings. May the GOD’s ANGELS protect you the rest of your days:)

  82. J David Bradley says:

    what an unbelevible giving experance.I think familes that live togather to the point of giving up things to beter mankind is a God send I hope in my time I will have the chance to do the same,and encourage others to do the same. the world would be so deferant place. reminds me of a song called Imagian.By the Beatles Thank You for making my day J.David

  83. drno says:

    Money is way to hard to come by these days. They are nuts for doing that. Until PEOPLE (not government’s) of the world begin to address the fact that folks are working longer but earning less, then your going to get a lot of poverty. I would have given a little to the March of Dimes and let the chips fall where they may 🙂

  84. Liz Bailey says:

    I am so blown away by the spirit of these two incredible children. God has big plans for them in their future and Kudos to the parents also.
    That was a remarkable decision on their part and it must have been
    very, very difficult during these troubling times. You have not only raised
    two outstanding human beings, but have shown your own true worth.
    This story made me so happy I cried. May God bless you and enrich
    your lives in ways you may never have thought possible.

  85. Jose says:

    If only everyone who has the means to do this would, this would be a different world. At such a young age they’re already changing the world. Imagine what these kids will do 10, 20, 30 years from now. I have great respect for these kids.

  86. william says:

    after hannah saw a homeless man? She never saw one before?

    sounds medieval times, a royalty member pitying the peasants she sees from castle windows….

    This story is so bizzare, like Sidhartha , I guess we are still living
    in the dark ages.

    giving money away? Really? or just getting rid of too big a house?
    something not right about this story. It’s vaguely disturbing in a most
    unpleasant way. giving money away? But he didn’t like selling in a buyers market? Is this not a contradiction on the face of it?
    He should keep his money. (sure gonna need it with whats coming
    in the future) the poor are better off without money like that…. crumbs from the rich…. keep it please…

  87. Jason says:

    Although these people are giving to a good cause, we have so many Americans that are in times of need right now (take the hurricane victims of Texas) it is hard for me to rationalize overlooking our fellow nieghbors to send money to a country that could care less about our problems.

  88. another rockin kid says:

    wicked… you guys are awesome.

  89. Jess says:

    I commend the family for helping out those in need. However, I believe instead of always helping other countries we need to help our own. We as Americans always want to help others, which is wonderful, yet we have children in our own backyards suffering from malnutrition, freezing in the winters, and parents who can’t get them toothbrushes for school. I believe they should help their fellow Americans, because most of the coutries we do help, would stab us in the back if they had the chance.

  90. Thinking says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling like the world needs a little more charity than it has in the past. It seems that the financial crisis’ of the world right now has one very bad side effect. It makes everyone very very selfish. I think what the world needs is for everyone to take a look at where they are (especially if they are not millionaires) and give a little more than is comfortable to those who have less.

    This example is very newsworthy- Your donations to others and your time/energy donated to charity is just as newsworthy even if you are not privileged enough to have millions to donate.

    Let’s all do what we can to help others who have less. The true nature of our country can shine through in tough times, or we can all become more selfish.

  91. Leon Anderson says:

    Sometimes I am moved to a welling-up of tears and a swelling of my heart/chest. I’ve questioned if I am just sentimental. But I know better. This act is reason to be moved and reason to be hopeful. Thank you for my moment. I will search for ways to do my part.

  92. Julie Sawyer says:

    If we could all live like this, what a wonderful world we could have!
    It’s not a new concept though. Two thousand years ago Christianity was still new, but the Bible, a historic document, tells us how they lived. Here is a sample from Acts, chapter 4:

    All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
    With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
    There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Act 4:32-35

  93. Patrick Skahan says:

    The Salwen parents have truly raised their children richly, with a genuine compassion for others and putting their “neighbors” before themselves. We are all capable of such generosity in our own daily lives.

  94. Queen Bee says:

    Very thoughtful of these kids, but why not donate the money to a charity here. There are a lot of poor people in America. Maybe a charity or to breast cancer research, St. Judes Children’s Hospital, etc…but at least their hearts are in the right place.

  95. Nick Vaughn says:


    This is too good to believe. Truly inspirational, and I wonder how much of a teenager’s perspective about money is guided not by the amount but the quality afforded by it. Maybe the same teens 10 years hence could look back at this instance and react differently after realizing the struggle of earning money?

    I wonder, but a wonderfully positive read.

  96. Sam says:

    Way to go, Hannah and Joseph! You’re proof positive that there is hope for the future and that our generation is ready to lead the way.

    Not that that makes your parents chopped liver! They obviously were persuaded by your argument and are ultimately the ones who made the decision, so they should be equally admired. What a cool family!

  97. L says:

    Oh May the blessing of the God ever remain with these two kids. I am speechless. I am blown away by this. Oh there is hope. There is hope. There is hope. I love you people. I love you people. God loves you.

  98. robin kelly says:

    Oh golly gee – now they are only in a $1 million home instead of that extravagant $2 million one.

  99. Tom Watson says:

    Moses said, ‘There should be no poor among you”, in other words, “Do NOT allow poverty and disconnection to flourish in your community” and both Moses and Jesus said “the poor, you have with you always”, in other words, “the reconciliation of the poor is job ONE! Always has been… always will be…” I wish these kids and their parents could be teaching, literally, how to gather resources and expend them – wisely – on behalf of those who can be reconciled to our communities of well-being. No, we can’t help everyone but many people could help themselves – and others – if they only knew how. TEACH, share, build, pray, serve, laugh, love, grow, TEACH, share, build, pray, serve, laugh, love grow…..

  100. Rebecca Berry says:

    I think these young people are right on with what their doing but there are people right in Atlanta that need more help right now, keep the money for people you might even meet & see what your contributions are doing. This country needs more people like they are , lets spread the workd around.

    God Belss Your Family


  101. MandaLynn says:

    Wow! Isn’t it so much more meaningful when people voluntarily “redistribute” their wealth…as opposed to being taxed into doing so by their government? I hope my children grow to be have such generous hearts!

  102. penny says:

    why not help the needy here instead of africa.there are poor familys here.also lots of hungry children,help our country first.

  103. Tony Brand (UK) says:

    That’s so wonderful. The world would be such a better place if everyone were so generous.

    Thank you

  104. logical says:

    What a feel good story! Great for you Hannah! You are an inspiration to all those Americans who believe the USA should support the rest of the world!

    Thank you. You are a saint!

  105. Asif says:

    WOW! God bless you, many times over! This story made me cry with joy. Thank you CNN for posting this wonderful story.

  106. Ben Jingle says:

    Great parenting and I am lost for words. This action shows that there is harmony the home. If every family has this type of harmony, there definitely will be peace in the world. God preserve you all in Christ name.

  107. logical says:

    This is a recycled story from many months ago.

    To paraphrase an old Smith Barney commercial, her parents seemingly made money the old fashioned way–they earned it. She should be proud of her parents for what they have accomplished. Instead, she impugnes them for their success.

    If you google what Hannah said in the original article you will find:

    One day while driving home with her father, Hannah Salwen noticed a Mercedes stopped next to a homeless man sitting on the curb. “I said to my dad, ‘if that guy didn’t have such a nice car, then that guy could have a nice meal.'” the 15-year old from Atlanta, recalled.

    So, the guy who worked hard didn’t deserve to have his car? She’s a latte liberal in the making. Wonder if Abercrombie makes hairshirts. Also, why did they send the money overseas? I still don’t get that.

    In all fairness to Hannah, her parents probably should have imbued her with a little more understanding of how success happens. In with more Frank Bettger and Horatio Alger. Out with the liberal guilt and class warfare of Karl Marx.

    By the way, my previous comment was supposed to be sarcastic. Just wanted to see what CNN’s censors would filter and let through–apparently only that which agrees with their slant. Fair and honest reporting at it’s finest.

  108. SergeSmArt says:

    That was exactly what I was talking about on MySpace yestarday!!
    There was a topic:
    Are Americans to Blame for the Current Economy?
    and someone says:
    Steak [BDH] wrote:

    And that, my friends, is capitalism at its finest.

    Natural selection to the financial world. If you aren’t smart enough to survive it, then you’re screwed. I don’t believe the blame belongs anywhere else BUT the consumer.
    but I told him:
    LOL .. capitalism at its finest !! .. but all this TRICKS what they DID with it IS NOT a CAPITALISM AT ALL !!

    Keep in mind, that all this LOANS is just a VERY LITTLE part of the final DEBT !!!
    so you are WRONG!!
    and then I say this:

    you see … What I think is very impoortant – is MAIN IDEA about “WHAT we have to LIVE FOR? ”
    What is a GOAL of LIFE? Did you now it? 🙂

    I know! – The MAIN GOAL of LIFE is “HAPPINES” !! NOT a richness !!

    People WANT to be HAPPY, but isntead of it they WASTE they life and HEALTH to get “PROSPERITY” … americans cannot stop to get “better” car …
    they feel a “shame” to use current :))))) It’s so FUNNY to see!!

    I see a lot of people who CANNOT be happy on weekends – they are BORING !!…
    they have so LITTLE in they mind so have NOTING TO DO…
    This is TERRIBLE ! ….
    Now – I’m happy to see, that YOUG PEOPLE starting to CHANGE they VIEW OF LIFE! ….

    Sergei Smolovich / an Artist and Art Teacher

  109. Joelle Niedecken says:

    It is ALL a matter of the heart attitude. From the gentleman above who suggested it wasn’t enough (maybe not intended, but that’s kind of how it came across), to the lady who condescendingly had to say golly gee, $2 million home down to $1 million one, to the gentleman who said… TEACH, share, build, pray, serve, laugh, love, grow, TEACH, share, build, pray, serve, laugh, love grow. He’s got it right, by the way!!

    Hannah and Joseph’s hearts were touched/pricked by our Heavenly Father and inturn their parents hearts were, as well, because Hannah didn’t ‘just feel bad’ about the homeless man, she spoke up and did something. Not everyone’s willing, not everyone can. But for those who will and can, let’s make a difference not only in our lives, but in someone elses, just like Hannah, Joseph, and their parents did.

    We’re not called to judge, but to love.

  110. Joelle Niedecken says:

    and to my previous comment…I don’t know that they literally made a difference in that particular homeless man’s life (hopefully, someone will!); to my knowledge, the story didn’t say. The point is, they did something positive. Unlike someone(s) who set a homeless person on fire, and I think killed him, over the weekend. It was on the news.

    Make a difference where you’re planted.

  111. Hominidx says:

    to the critics of these people:
    where do you get off? This is a remarkable move by people who didn’t have to do ~anything~. Most revelations come from the right realization at the right time, and then doing the right thing. Take the freaking tree out of your own eye before pestering someone else about the speck in theirs.

  112. Dick Carden says:

    Since father is a business man, why didn’t they suggest that he take those proceeds and start a biz that would employee the homeless man and others like him and bring them back into society?

    Giving to a Charity dilutes the impact that could have been made. The money invested in a biz employing these unemployed could add income into the community and tax paying workers, not merely someone with a hand out.

    Making a difference does not mean being a patsy.

  113. Dejavu says:

    I wonder how many Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch executives who made more money than some small countries will be donating to the poor.

  114. john costas says:

    the vote is as simple as black and white

  115. Catrina says:

    Wow… what a great inspiring story. That’s a family we can all look up to.

  116. phillip Allen says:

    i am a viewer of CNN news and i enjoy your program very much. My comment tonight is why is the republican party going after barack Obama, old and out dated news, this story about Aires is DEAD!!! how about talking about the one subject that is on everyones mind “THE ECONOMY” i mean no wonder he is behind in the polls he got his V.P. nominee Sara Palin out there spewing rederret about Aires, and she is only repaeting what has been hashed over 10months ago it ovious that she doesn’t have a clue about what is going on that’s why they continue to keep her out of the media spotlight john McCain is not somone that i as a taxpayer have any confidence at all i hope that not an indication of my political affiliation well let’s just see what happens from here

  117. Joe says:

    It’s a feel good story but will do little to help Africa. These people want to make themselves feel good but will not fix Africa’s deep rooted problems.

  118. Rose says:

    God Bless You!!All the way to HEAVEN for what your family did. You are an amazing family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  119. P. Scott says:

    Costas… was that a racial comment? I believe in the American people and have been at the rallies, have seen both blacks and whites… I believe it is one of black and white, but more so that it is about making the obvious choice.. I’m hoping that’s what you meant??

  120. navpreet says:

    there are not so many people in this world who could such great deeds like this. but hat off for this family and the charitable work they did

  121. JJOLI says:

    I watched and read this story, and then I read the comments. I cannot believe some of the things people have said. It astonishes me that people can be so blind to good. The whole point of why Hannah, Joseph and thier parents are helping overseas is because there aren’t as many opportunities for education, food, water, etc. in other countries as there is in the United States. I am an eightenn year old who founddr an organization that helps Africa, and just because I have a main focus of other countries less fortunate than ours, does not mean I don’t care and don’t help in the one I live in. It doesn’t make me less patriotic, or less inclined to help Americans in need, it means that I have a reason and purpose for helping outside of the country. I don’t come from a rich home, or a big town, but I understand the effects of todays society on the world around me. For those people that have made the sarcastic and negative comments to this story, I ask you; Do you do anything of value or meaning to help others?

  122. Kate says:

    I think what Hannah is doing is really good cause if I was rich I would feel really bad about all theos people out there who dont have a house or food to eat.

  123. victoria says:

    How is giving away your parents’ hard-earned home and money teaching you about PERSONAL sacrifice?? I think I would’ve made a deal with my kids: get a part time job (babysitting or newspaper route) and donate half of your earnings to charity for a year. If at the end of that year you’ve kept your job and your commitment to charity, I’ll do my part by selling my house. This is a just a bit absurd to me.

  124. Dawn says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. We should hear more positive and encouraging stories about our youth today. I pray my son has the same giving spirit one day.

  125. Christa says:

    Great job Salwen family! This is a great example of how people can voluntarily ‘redistribute’ their wealth as they see fit, instead of having the government tax them to death and distribute it as THEY see fit. Keep up the good work Karen and Joseph. And GO McCAIN!

  126. You Matter says:

    Right on kids! That’s the spirit! Remember, we come into this world with nothing, we leave with nothing. What’s the point of squandering wealth? Living in excess, while people are starving is nothing but pure, unadulterated deliberate selfishness and downright sickening. The win/lose mentality is how we’ve gotten where we are as a generation and it’s only getting worse, so this little glimmer of sunshine in a sea of darkness is truly refreshing and inspiring. Let’s ALL take the lead from these kids!

  127. Melissa, Los Angeles says:

    I’m one of the few that have a problem with this. Their parents worked very hard to own this mansion. To expect the parents to not only sell the house but give up half of the money from the sale is truly ludicrous. If the parents had passed on then yes that makes sense for the kids to do what they want with the house. To me, sacrifice means working hard and giving up what you earn or donating your time to help somebody.

  128. Hannah N. says:

    Thank you.
    God Bless.

  129. really? says:

    Much better than my feeding a family of 9 for $.26/day. One upped again by the rich.

  130. GMC says:

    I love to see you people that take it upon themselves to take a difference. So many people would just drive by but these people decided to stop and help change their world.


  131. drer says:

    Please…its easy to give away money when its not yours. Poor things, they only get to live in a 900,000 k house now? And its their parents $ they are giving away, not theirs.

    I’m sure mommy and daddy are getting great press out of this that will translate into more $ down the road. You people are too busy singing kuhm bay ya to see through their ploy.

    You think these kids are shopping for clothes at walmart and working part time after school? Guarantee half of their clothes are worth more than your peoples cars.

  132. monica says:

    While I agree it is MUCH easier to give away someone else’s money, I’m still impressed that “rich kids” even noticed the problem we have today in class difference

    Maybe they did give away some of their clothes. We don’t know. I’m just glad for once it wasn’t just about them and their “image.”

    And regardles of their intentions and whose money it specifically was, it still made a different and helped SO many. That is what ultimately matters.

  133. John Boom says:

    While I admire the kids resolve to help people, they are foolish to think that money is going to help anyone. Do they know where their money is going? Most of it usually ends up in the hands of the local governments, administrative costs, or is spent wastefully. Its a statement of fact. They wasted their parents hard earned money. The corrupt governements in Africa count on people giving money to them to help the poor, then spend it on themselves. To really help you need to go over there and help with your hands and head, as a doctor, healthcare, labor, or other hard work that they need. The root of the problem needs to be fixed, not just giving money away. Why would the governements even try to improve their country when they know people are just going to give them free money?

  134. doug says:


  135. Monica says:

    I like her idea! When I went to Washington D.C, I saw homeless people everyday on the street hollering from pain and the thoughts of the past. They were all barefooted with hardly something to call clothes. All it was, was rags. It was hard to ignore them because they were so pitiful! That’s why you turn to God every step of the way and praise him for the things you have now, and praise him for the things you will recieve in the future! WALK IN FAITH! Faith-trusting him. For example, when you sit down in a chair, you trust that chair to hold you up and not break. Thank you Hannh And Joseph for your inspiration on others lives to get out there and help this world that’s in bad shape!

    Middle School student

  136. Royller says:

    I really think it is great that there are teens out there looking for a greater future in our life time. People or adults think we are spoiled teens but we are not. Some of us actually think about others and care for them.

    -Student from Ms. Britt’s class at East Middle School

  137. Trevor from Ms.Britt class says:

    I think that it was a good idea. It’s easier to give away somebody else’s money, but I’m still impressed that the rich kids notice that the problems we face everyday. If you have a gargantuan home you should sell it and get the money so you can down size to something smaller because their are so many people in the world starving. Some people should give money to buy the poor food so they can live a normal life like everyone else.
    -East Middle School

  138. Hunter from Ms. Britt's Class says:

    I think that this is a good idea because if you have that big of a home, then you should give it away because alot of people are starving and it is a good idea to give half of the money to the starving to buy them them food. I believe that what goes around comes around and if it’s true these kids are really going to get something really good. I think that there are too many people in this world today that just pass by the poor and there are still a few people out there who believe. I just hope that those people find a way to get more people on their side just to get these people more food. Thank you and
    god bless you.
    -East Middle School

  139. Royller says:

    Its me again, I forgot to say thank you for everything you have done for our world and future generations.

  140. mallory from Ms.Britt's class says:

    Hi, I think it is really great what you did. My sister wants to help with hunger problems in world too. Every time I go to sports games I used to see homeless people every where. Nowadays there are only about 2 or 3. My mom says it’s because of people like you that there aren’t that many homeless people any more. I think it was a great thing that you did keep it up.

  141. Samantha from Ms.Britt's Class says:

    I am so glad that you are helping those who are in need. I am so thankful that you donated that money to those who have very little or nothing. I can’t imagine anyone who would give up that much just to help others. I am so proud of you and I hope that you have inspired others to do the same!

  142. seth says:

    I think it was very very generous of you .

  143. Kaylla says:

    This is so awesome that people would give up there own house to help those who does not even have a house. These kids are someone who should defenitly be looked up to. This world needs more people like this.
    student from Ms.Britt’s Class at East Middle School.

  144. ooopinionsss says:

    How you think when the economic crisis will end? I wish to make statistics of independent opinions!

  145. Manasa says:

    I’m speechless. Being a senior in high school we have many projects going on in our school, but none like what those two children are doing. I just wish that there were more kind people in the world like them. Hats off guys !!

  146. Madsion from Mrs. Britt's Class says:

    The kids and parents should be very greatfull to have two kids that care for everybody in the world. I personally think that the kids made a right choice to help out the hungry, poor, and homless. This makes me wish that they are more families and children like this, if we had more people like this maybe out world would be a better controlled place. Thank you,

    Mrs. Britt’s Class

  147. Kayla says:

    Aww that is so sweet. I would have done the same exact thing whether I was rich or middle class. You know that not everyone has homes, food, or even clothes. So what you guys just did is something that you can’t find often. I know that everyone can’t give up their homes and expenses but we can all help out in some way. The thing that you guys did was very special! This will inspire people from all over the world to try to give because “Sharing is Caring”!
    A student from Ms. Britt’s class

  148. Kayla says:

    Aww that is so sweet. I would have done the same exact thing whether I was rich or middle class. You know that not everyone has homes, food, or even clothes. So what you guys just did is something that you can’t find often. I know that everyone can’t give up their homes and expenses but we can all help out in some way. The thing that you guys did was very special! This will inspire people from all over the world to try to give because “Sharing is Caring”! 🙂
    A student from Ms. Britt’s class

  149. gael says:

    I think what this 2 persons did is great because right now the economy is like very low and some people have a lot of what they dont even need and some people dont have nothing 2 eat and some are dying for not eating what they did is somethong great of sharing their money with people that dont have even a dollar.

  150. Justin from ms. Britt's class says:

    It is very wonderful what these kids do. I dont think I could give all of my money away to help pepole who need it. I would give some of my money but not all of it.

  151. Evelyn says:

    I sincerely would have to think really hard about giving up my dream house as well! But for a great deed there is no thinking to do! The choice would be clear to anyone with a great, big heart!

  152. Justin from ms. Britt's class says:

    By the way I have a Question for you all. How does it feel to give all your money and sell your big house to help other people? Are you proud of what you did and what is the best part about it all?

  153. Brianna from Ms. Britt's Class says:

    I couldn’t beleive it when I read your story. If I were you I would have done the same thing even though it would have been hard to do. Now I am inspired and I going to give toys and other things to people who need so much.

  154. sergio from Ms. Britt's Class says:

    I think that is really nice to do that .I was thinking if I were rich I would do the same. If I had a wish I would want everybody to be equal.

  155. tiffanywe says:

    I think she rocks because she was willing to give others what she had to much of and helped many people.

  156. Paul says:

    Feeding starving people in Africa just makes more starving people. Charity money should stay in the USA. Sending all that cash to Africa won’t help that homeless man that moved them so greatly.

  157. Todd says:

    I think that it’s awesome what you guys are doing to raise money and support the poor in Africa. Are you planning to by a house any other time or are you going to find a house and settle down?
    Ms.Britts student

  158. Lynda says:

    I am so touched- I bet your parents are proud, as they should be. I hope Karma finds you…thank you for making the world a better place to live in.

  159. Jonathan L. says:

    I know this family! I’m in a band with Joseph!!! I’m serious. This is so cool seeing them on cnn. Go Salwens!

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