JJ Watt gives 2-year update on how Hurricane Harvey donation money is being spent

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt released Thursday his 2-year update on the contributions made to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund through his Justin J. Watt Foundation.

Watt started the fundraiser to aid in recovery efforts as the storm ravaged the city in 2017. Overall, his foundation said the fund raised $41.6 million, making it the largest crowd-sourced fundraiser in history.

Watt shared what that money has gone toward in the two years since the storm:

- clean up, repair and rebuilding of over 1,183 homes
- recovery and rebuilding of over 971 childcare centers and after school programs, serving over 108,731 children
- the distribution of over 239,000,000 meals to those affected
- physical and mental health services to over 8,900 individuals
- distribution of 337,000 prescriptions to low-income and uninsured patients



Watt partnered with the following eight nonprofits to distribute the resources: All Hands and Hearts, Americares, Boys & Girls Clubs, Baker Ripley, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and SBP.

Last year, which was also the first year since the storm, Watt released a similar breakdown of the recovery efforts.

"There's a tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with the situation I was in," Watt said last year. "Obviously, I wasn't planning on being in such a wild situation from the start."

In the first year, Watt distributed 81 percent of the millions he raised. He says he didn't spend any money administering the fund.

"We did loads and loads of research and spent hours and hours doing phone calls, meetings and talking with everybody and gathering as much information as we could so we could do it the right way," Watt said.
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The funds raised last year were used for the following:
  • The cleanup, repair and rebuilding of over 600 homes.

  • The recovery and rebuilding of over 420 childcare centers and after-school programs, serving over 16,000 children.


  • The distribution of over 26,000,000 meals to those affected.

  • Physical and mental health services to over 6,500 individuals.

  • Distribution of medicine to over 10,000 patients.


Read more on last year's recovery efforts here.



Watt has also faced criticism from some people who have questioned his Harvey recovery efforts, including from an adult cake maker.

"But do we know where any of the money went, because I can't find one person that got any help from the JJ Watt foundation for Hurricane Harvey and I know JJ's a great man," she tweeted from the Adult Cakes by Kim account.

Watt responded, telling her they are doing the best they can.

"There are 2.3 million people in Houston alone, Kim. I apologize that we aren't able to reach every single person, it's simply not possible. We've rebuilt homes & day cares, provided food & medical care and our work is far from finished! I promise we're doing the best we can!!!"



She later clarified saying she wasn't trying to diss Watt, but wanted to ask the question.

Last year, Watt wrote an open letter on the overwhelming generosity of others in the face of Harvey's devastation:
"As I reflect on the events of Hurricane Harvey one year ago, the memories of destruction and devastation remain, but they are accompanied by memories of hope, selflessness and the beauty of the human spirit. The actions of professional first responders and everyday citizens alike were an inspiration to the world and a shining example of the inherent good that lies within us all. Those actions locally were then supported by the actions of hundreds of thousands from around the world showing their support and donating their money in order to help out in any way they could. I was fortunate enough to witness that generosity first hand, as the fundraiser that I started with a simple goal of $200,000 turned into an unbelievable outpouring of support from people all around the globe. When it was all said and done, after the late donations and checks that came in after the deadline were counted, the total amount that was donated and is now hard at work in the community was $41.6 million. In the past year, those funds have been used to repair and rebuild houses, allowing people to finally return and once again have a place to call 'home'. Those funds have restored and rebuilt childcare centers so that parents can once again have a place to take their children where they know they will be safe, so that they can return to work and resume a sense of normalcy. Those funds have provided millions and millions of meals to people who weren't sure where their next meal might be coming from after being devastated by the storm. And those funds provided physical and mental health care to those who suffered from the events of that awful weekend one year ago. While a great deal has been accomplished in the past 12 months, there is still much work to be done. Moving forward, there will be more of the same, as we continue to work with our incredible nonprofit partners to provide as much help and support as we possibly can for those affected by Harvey. I cannot thank everyone enough for your support and generosity. You have truly provided an unbelievable example of what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing. Every time that I am fortunate enough to witness someone step back into their home for the first time or a child run around on the playground again, I am reminded of the generosity of strangers that helped make it all possible. Thank you and never stop spreading the positivity! #HoustonStrong"

Additional information about the JJ Watt Foundation can be found at jjwfoundation.org.

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