When celebrities appear in the headlines, it is usually because of a scandal such as being found lying in a gutter, drunk as lords, singing obscene versions of nursery rhymes, or gaining a little weight. The stories that prove there are stars out there ready and willing to use their position to make a real difference tend to be downplayed, if mentioned at all.
Those stories need to be told. The cynical might claim celebrities’ charity work is all a publicity stunt, and perhaps, in some cases, they have every reason to be cynical. At the end of the day, no matter how beautiful, glamorous, rich, or famous, the stars are human beings.
It is quite reasonable to think that, for some celebs, all that charity work has its origin in wanting to make a positive, lasting difference in a world that needs it. Read on to discover a few of their stories.
Undisputed empress of day-time TV, philanthropist, and veritable force of nature, Oprah Winfrey cannot and will not be stopped from trying to change people’s lives for the better. Forget about shows in which you get something! You get something! Everybody gets something!
Oprah’s real power as a humanitarian is something that happens quietly, every day. In addition to her Oprah Winfrey Foundation and Angel Network, she has supported numerous non-profit organisations around the world in various ways, opened schools for impoverished children, and dialogued with state presidents and government ministers regarding the upliftment of the poor in their countries.
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South African-born and raised blonde bombshell Charlize Theron made the USA her home, following her Hollywood big screen successes. Growing up in a country of such stark contrast between rich and poor made Charlize painfully aware of the grim realities faced by millions of Africans living with HIV/AIDS.
The actress never forgot the country or continent of her birth, and founded the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project. The charitable organisation takes a ground-level approach to educating impoverished and rural communities about the virus and the syndrome to which it could lead, how to minimise or prevent risk of contracting or spreading the virus, how to live healthily with HIV, the importance of anti-retroviral therapy, and other important topics.
Members of Rush
In 2015, the members of Canadian rock band Rush, namely Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, and Neil Peart, received the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award at that year’s annual Juno Awards. The award acknowledges Canadian artists who have made a real difference to the country.
Over the course of a career spanning 4 decades, the band has:
- Offered long-term support to the Toronto Food Bank, United Way, and UNICEF
- Donated $1 from every ticket sale to charitable organisations such as Doctors Without Borders
- Played benefit concerts and donated money to charitable causes and organisations such as those affected by the 2013 southern Alberta foods, the Make It Right Foundation, Little Kids Rock, and the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
- Supported a range of other causes as a band and as individuals
The cynics can say what they like. Celebrities do not put in a near-lifetime of charitable work for publicity. If they were really that shallow, they would tire of mingling with the poor, the sick, the orphaned, animals in conservation or wildlife rehabilitation projects, and the rest very quickly.
If you became a celebrity, would you use your newfound status to make a positive difference in the world around you?