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Rex, King of Carnival, J. Storey Charbonnet, toasts family and friends on St. Charles Ave. near Canal Street on Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Philanthropy is an important part of any good community. Those who have more than others help us build stronger communities when they share to contribute to the betterment of our society.

Just a few days ago, the Rex Organization donated $1 million to support 74 public and parochial schools and organizations that educate and lift up the lives of about 49,000 students. Rex has done this for six years, usually with a news conference, administrators, educators and friends enjoying slices of king cake. This time things were different. Rex’s philanthropic arm, the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, pulled people together to share the good news by video conference. School and organization recipients couldn’t express their thanks with handshakes and hugs, so they did it virtually.

The foundation reports that it has raised $9.3 million for local charities, with 95% of donations coming from krewe members.

Things are different this season with an ongoing public health emergency as we fight the novel coronavirus. There are fewer activities and events as we’re encouraged to stay apart and avoid most gatherings. But that hasn’t stopped some fundraising.

With support from its members, and an annual Mardi Gras ball, Karnival Krewe de Louisiane raises money to support research, cancer education and indigent cancer patient care in metro Baton Rouge. The krewe’s annual ball was scheduled to go virtual this month as a safety precaution. All of the group’s activities are virtual, at least through April. Even without the normal enjoyment of seeing each other in person and having a good time, the krewe has continued its tradition of raising funds with #stickingtogetherforapurpose this year.

The Mid City Gras Ball scheduled for Feb. 1 in Baton Rouge has been postponed and people have been asked to decorate their homes since there will be no parading along North Boulevard as originally planned for Feb. 7. Still, they’re collecting donations as they sell special "Mask(p)arade" masks that can be worn as participants visit houses around the neighborhood. Krewes in Lafayette and elsewhere in the state have canceled balls and parties, but fundraising has continued.

After all, the needs in our communities are still there, if not more so during this unprecedented health crisis.

Not every organization is able to raise enough to give $1 million. Perhaps some individuals can give $10 to get a mask. We applaud Rex and its foundation, and we encourage krewes that can do the same as an important part of making this unusual season a celebration with lasting impact.