The Harveys know now. And the Salvation Army and the Vallejo people the faith-based nonprofit serves will benefit.
E-40, the 46-year-old rap artist born Earl Stevens, living in the East Bay, returned home Tuesday to donate a much-needed $10,000 to the agency that he and his family once needed years ago.
“When I found out, I was speechless,” Harvey said. “When I got the news, my daughter said, ‘Dad, it’s a Christmas miracle.'”
With red kettle collections down 40 percent, Harvey was tempted to check E-40 for angel wings.
“It is a Christmas miracle,” Harvey said. “This is going to help make a difference.”
E-40, a national rap pioneer some 25 years ago, said the holiday was “the perfect moment” to help the cause.
“My mother and father divorced when I was 8 1/2. They did what they could do. When times got heavy, me and mom had to come over here” to the Salvation Army, E-40 said.
“I understand the struggle.”
Arriving as a back-seat passenger in a white Suburban, E-40 emerged to a handful of fans, dignitaries and media in an appearance kept quiet to avoid mayhem from his significant fan base.
Though he’s donated locally before, “I don’t talk about everything I do,” E-40 said, realizing the desperate local need was there this year.
“I knew I had to come out to my soil,” he said of his native Vallejo. “I’m trying to give back.”
Mayor Osby Davis praised E-40 for always claiming Vallejo as his home.
“He has a recognition, and an appreciation and a pride in our city,” Davis said.
Before posing with a giant promotional check, the 6-foot-2 rapper, producer and entrepreneur smiled for cameras as about a dozen kids received bikes compliments of the Salvation Army.
“I almost cried,” E-40 said. “A bike for a kid is big.”
E-40, standing on what was a former chapel-turned-mini warehouse stage, encouraged the young people to “stay strong, stay in school, stay out of trouble, listen to your parents and believe in God.”
Jonathan Harvey acknowledged that some rap lyrics may be inappropriate in a faith setting. Nonetheless, “he has the intent to do something good and I appreciate that. This is proof that anybody can be used by God to do good in their community.”
“We’ve had this shortfall with our kettles and I’ve been praying that something was going to come through,” Vickie Harvey said.
“I’m no better than anyone else. I’m just playing my part,” E-40 said. “I can’t save the world, but I do what I can to save my community.”