LONGWOOD, Fla. - After receiving a $1,200 stimulus check for his late son, a Longwood father is asking the federal government to allow that money to go to charity rather than back in the coffers.
"My son, Matt, was this great, wonderful son... a great, wonderful human being,” said Marshall Adler.
Adler said his son spent his life helping others, but it was a tragically short life that ended on July 22, 2018, when he died by suicide. The family has been hit with waves of grief ever since, and that grief was unexpectedly triggered again early this month.
"I went to the mailbox like I always do, and I saw a government envelope addressed to my son 'Matthew Adler,'” said Marshall.
It was the stimulus check from the federal government. Adler said it made sense as they had to file a tax return for his son last year. However, like other families across the country receiving checks addressed to deceased loved ones, Adler said it was clear the government knew his son had passed as the letters "DECD" appeared on the check right next to his name.
“Obviously deceased,” said Adler.
Adler said he and his wife have no interest in keeping the money, but technically he said it is his son's money.
"I looked at the check and I go, 'Matt would want this, he'd want us to do something good with this.' Matt spent his whole life helping people,” he said.
So he wrote an email along with an additional letter to the White House and President Trump. In it, he asked that he and other families in his position be allowed to return such stimulus checks to the federal government with directives that the money be instead donated to a worthy charity.
The Adlers want this $1,200 to go to the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes' Fund. Breen is the New York ER doctor who recently succumbed to suicide after spending her final weeks relentlessly helping to save COVID-19 patients and recovering from the illness herself.
“The family set up a charitable fund for mental health services for frontline medical workers,” Adler explained.
Given their son's story, that’s a cause near and dear to the family. So far though, they have not received an answer. Adler said the only thing they have received from the White House is a form letter most Americans receive, following up on the stimulus distribution with President Trump’s signature on the bottom. He said that letter also came addressed to "Matthew Adler DECD."
Adler said he is not ready to write "VOID" on that check and send it back to Washington yet though. He wants to see it honor his son’s life the way his son would have wanted to.
Adler said, as a child, his son once gave a tour of his school to Fred Rogers and kept in touch with him by letter for years that followed. Even upon his son's death, he said so many people contacted their family with stories of Matthew helping them out and touching their lives.
Adler said Matthew also emulated his grandfather who was a bombardier in World War II and flew 51 missions. Additionally, he said Matthew’s grandmother was a nurse at New York’s Bellevue Hospital who cared for smallpox patients during the 1947 outbreak.
"Life is for the living. Matt's not here, he'd want this money to go help the living,” said Adler, adding that, at a time when many charities will likely struggle through the tough economy, this is a no-brainer. "Allow these checks to go to charity."
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