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What Is George's Human Fund Charity In Seinfeld?

"Seinfeld" is famously "a show about nothing," but that's not quite an accurate description of what the seminal sitcom really was about. Many of the show's storylines were based on real-life events. Several of the George (Jason Alexander) stories in particular are based on moments from co-creator Larry David's life, like the time when George quit a job and then returned, playing it off as a joke. Or the time when George snuck into a woman's apartment to steal an answering machine tape with an embarrassing message recorded on it (via The Huffington Post).

The Season 9 episode "The Strike" is an all-time classic. In it, Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) meets a woman who looks different depending on the lighting in the room. Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) keeps giving out a fake number to creepy men, but her plan backfires when she inadvertently gives it out to a man she actually likes. Kramer (Michael Richards) reveals that he's been on strike at H&H Bagels for several years.

Then, there's George. "The Strike" is better known as "the Festivus episode." In it, it's revealed that George's family celebrates their own twisted version of Christmas, called "Festivus." The episode culminates with George being forced to wrestle his father in front of his boss. How does the story get there? Earlier, George was running a scam at work where he claimed to be making donations in his coworkers' names to a charity called "The Human Fund." When he gets caught, he makes the excuse that he doesn't celebrate traditional holidays–which is, ironically, true.

Festivus and the Human Fund might seem like absurdist ideas concocted in a writers' room, but the story is at least partially inspired by real life.

The Human Fund was inspired by Castle Rock's holiday gifts

Three writers have writing credits on "The Strike": Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer, and Dan O'Keefe (via IMDb). In an interview with Uproxx, all three shed light on the inspirations for the episode. 

Obviously, there's no such thing as a real-life Human Fund. The whole joke is that it's a fake charity that only exists to give George an excuse not to give gifts. Berg was inspired by "Seinfeld" production company Castle Rock's tradition of giving holiday gifts to employees. During the "Seinfeld" days, Castle Rock would give out cards saying that a donation had been made in their name to a charity. "We always wondered how much they had donated, and if it was made in our name, why couldn't we use the tax write-off?" Berg explains. 

The gifts weren't very popular. Eventually, the writers realized that an unscrupulous person, like George, could simply give out cards claiming that donations had been made to charity, without actually giving money. The writers decided the charity needed to have such a vague sounding name that nobody would question it. They landed on "The Human Fund."

Festivus, on the other hand, is very much real. O'Keefe's family celebrated a similar anti-holiday during his childhood. He claims he was so traumatized by the memories that he was reluctant to include it in the show. Luckily for American pop culture, Berg and Schaffer overruled him.