Taylor Swift is known for her approachability and willingness to interact with her fans, both online (like when she graciously responded to a Tumblr user who corrected her grammar) and in person (like when she flew to Ohio to surprise a fan at her bridal shower). The "Blank Space" singer puts a lot of effort into making sure her followers know how much she appreciates them. But she took it to a whole new level on June 12, when Taylor Swift donated $15,000 to a firefighter who rescued his own wife and son after a car crash last week.
The fireman, Aaron Van Riper, didn't know it was his own family who he was on his way to save, until he got to the scene of the accident. His wife, Amber, and son, Jonathan, are now both healing from their serious injuries and on their way to recovery.
Friends of the Van Ripers set up a GoFundMe page to help them pay their medical bills, and T-Swift chipped in in a big way. At this point, the family is still about $20,000 away from their goal of raising $125,000, but they've already collected a tremendous amount in just the four days the campaign has been active. Swift's contribution accounts for nearly 15 percent of the total money raised so far.
This is far from the first time Taylor Swift has surprised total strangers with her incredible generosity, however. Check out these seven other ways the star has made people she doesn't even know incredibly happy:
She funded three fans' outing to Chipotle
Last summer, several girls were celebrating their friend's birthday in New York City, when they happened to run into the singer. After telling her all about their plans (which included a lunch stop at Chipotle), Swift gave them $90 so they could chow down on her dime. (Yes, $90 will buy way more Chipotle burritos than any three people could possibly consume in one sitting, but it doesn't look like the girls were complaining.)
She donated big money to NYC public schools
When T-Swift was made the newest tourism ambassador to New York City, the decision wasn't entirely free from controversy. (Remember, she's from Pennsylvania and has lived in Nashville for many years.) But she quickly gained the support of (notoriously grouchy) New Yorkers when she donated $50,000 of the proceeds from her single "Welcome to New York" to the city's public schools. That gift impacted the lives of hundreds of students.
She also helped a fan pay off her college loans
Swift's commitment to eduction doesn't stop when students turn 18. After fan Rebekah Bortnicker made a video replacing the Friends credits with the singer's most famous gal pals, Swift responded by giving Bortnicker $1,989 to help pay off her student loans. Bortnicker was completely overwhelmed with gratitude, saying in a video she posted to Tumblr, "I am so honored and so thankful to call myself a fan, to have supported you all of these years because you are truly the most amazing, genuine, and selfless person."
During the holiday season of 2014, Swift began her biggest generosity project yet, a campaign which became known as Swiftmas. After meticulously researching certain fans' online presences, the performer began sending out personalized Christmas presents, which she had bought and wrapped herself, to their houses. Now that's going above and beyond.
She doesn't just donate, she also creates experiences
Before releasing her latest album, 1989, Swift invited 35 of her biggest fans to her own house to enjoy a surprise private listening party with their idol. She personally baked cookies for them, and they all hung out with her cat Olivia Benson. Best. Party. Ever.
She makes time for the important events in people's lives
When Gena Camerlengo sent Taylor Swift an invite to her wedding and her bridal shower, she had no idea the singer would actually respond, let alone fly to Ohio to attend the party. Swift couldn't make it to Camerlengo's big day, but she took time to surprise the fan at her bridal shower, and even brought gifts.
She helped a bullied fan be herself
Back in September, a fan who was starting high school reached out to Swift to ask why her peers were bullying her and to seek advice on how to stay strong. Swift replied with a three-paragraph letter, telling the fan how special she was for refusing to change to fit people's expectations. Swift wrote,
"You're bright and joyful and so many people are cynical. They won't understand you and they won't understand me. But the only way they win is if your tears turn to stone and make you bitter like them. It's okay to ask why. It's okay to wonder how you could try so hard and still get stomped all over. Just don't let them change you or stop you from singing or dancing around to your favorite song."
The fan responded that her first day of high school went better than expected.