Pakistani blood, American heart

READING, Penn. - When most people think of the American dream, they imagine all this country has to offer them.

But for 40-year-old Hamid Chaudhry, a Pakistani immigrant and owner of a Dairy Queen in Reading, Pa., that dream isn't just for the taking.

"I'm part of the society," Chaudhry tells CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman. "And when you belong somewhere, you have to give back."

A few years ago, after becoming a U.S. citizen, Chaudhry moved to Reading with his wife, a doctor. They have two children. For most people, that would be enough responsibility. But Chaudhry wanted more.

He began by offering his services to Cumru Elementary school principal James Watts.

"I looked at him like, 'Wow,'" Watts said. "Truthfully, businessmen in this day and age are not coming to schools and saying 'What can I do for you?"

Chaudhry offered to host the school fundraisers. He eventually began fundraising for other organizations as well: Soccer teams and Crime Stoppers. Every night it seemed, Hamid was sponsoring a different charity. He split the proceeds 50/50.

Beth Stanislawczyk, former president of the Cumru PTO, said, "A lot of times he is extra generous in what he gives you because you think, 'how did we make that much money tonight?'"

All told, Hamid has said "yes" to more than 100 community organizations, and that's not even counting his individual acts of charity.

Alecia Pagerly lost her husband Kyle, a deputy sheriff, in the line of duty a few months ago. Hamid was the first to step in, throwing a fundraiser to cover all her expenses at the time. "I wasn't even thinking that anybody was going to help me in any way," Pagerly said. "I was thinking I wasn't going to be able to pay for my husband's funeral. And then he steps up and does something like that."

"He gives you hope," Pagerly added. "People like Hamid definitely helped me to believe there's still good people."

And yet, Chaudhry is convinced he's the lucky one here.

"I'm making an honest living. I'm part of a society. I'm raising my kids. I'm practicing my faith, being a Muslim, so I'm able to do all those things in this great, great land of ours," Chaudhry said. "And when I say 'God Bless America', I mean it from the bottom of my heart. I mean it. God Bless America."

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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