Did You Know These Celebrities Give Back?
By: Brittni Devlin
With their glamorous lifestyles, huge success, and global admiration, it can be hard for a lot of people to remember that celebrities are people just like you and I. Our TV stars and pop divas have some of the biggest influences over the general public (whether you like it or not) and it is always inspiring to see celebrities stepping out of the limelight and doing what they can to give back to their communities and help the world around them. While some celebrity sponsorships are more public than others, many of our favorite idols are top philanthropists -and you may be surprised to find out just what they do!
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J.K. Rowling is known best for creating the magical world of Hogwarts. While no one is a stranger to the franchise that sold over 450 million books and created 8 blockbuster films, many may be surprised by the humble beginnings of the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling is no stranger to tragedy, dealing with her own personal run-ins with single parenting, poverty, death, and rejection before she came to be the inspiration she came to be. With her personal history in mind, it is no surprise that she is a big advocate and supported for underprivileged and disadvantaged women and children. She spends over $150 million each year in charity donations -even costing her the envied spot on Forbes Billionaires list. Since becoming successful she has written three books of Charity Aid, founded several of her own different organizations, and donates to countless to pre-existing charities.
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This heartthrob started out his career as a model before landing the role of Michael Kelso on the hit American sit-com, That ‘70s Show. Unlike Kelso, this celebrity is incredibly smart and originally enrolled in the University of Iowa with aspirations of a career in Biochemical engineering to find a cure for his fraternal brother’s, Michael’s, heart condition. While a few things changed along his journey to success, his passion for helping others never faded. In addition to supporting a long list of different charities, Kutcher is never afraid of getting his hands dirty for a good cause and has personally helped build houses for those in need. Nowadays, he is known for actively speaking out against human trafficking and the THORN (previously known as DNA) foundation that he founded with Demi Moore in hopes of abolishing sex slavery.
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Morgan Freeman has been a prominent figure for years. The American actor best known for his deep and soothing voice has been a very vocal advocate for a number of charities, with a soft spot for natural disaster relief efforts and the environment. While he has publicly supported over 20 charities, he has also founded Plan!t Now, and organization aimed to help victims of natural disasters, and sits on the board of directors for Earth Biofuels while advocating the importance of green energy. Most interestingly, he has personally converted his 124-acre Mississippi ranch into a bee sanctuary in hopes to promote the population of the now-endangered species.
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After the famous actor used his Oscar acceptance speech to spread awareness of climate change, it is no secret that DiCaprio is on a quest to save the earth. Throughout most of his career, he has been an advocate for environmental issues. Most notably in 1998, the then-24-year-old established his own foundation aimed at protecting remaining wildlife habitats and finding solutions for humans and nature to live in harmony. Though grants, media, public campaigns, and personal donations, this award-winning actor has been supporting efforts to preserve biodiversity, the ocean and forests with Consciousstep.com, as well as educating about climate change. While his heart lies in nature, Leo never hesitates to help those in need and has publicly supported organizations aiding natural disaster relief and disease.
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Ellen DeGeneres is as much a philanthropist as she is a comedian. Holding several different awards for her humanitarian efforts including PETA’s Woman of the Year, People’s Choice Humanitarian Reward, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Aside from personally donating to countless organizations, she never fails to use her influence on her popular talk show to spread awareness and change people’s lives for the better.
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Lady Gaga has been particular vocal with her personal beliefs and advocated for equality through her charity efforts as much as through her music. In addition to her countless contributions to organizations founded in the name of a variety of causes from Alzheimer’s to AIDS, she has gotten a considerable amount of recognition for her advocacy for AIDS awareness and LGBTQIA acceptance. Whether it is through personal donations, personal concerts, or public speaking, Lady Gaga has used her influence to get her causes a voice.
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Having sold over 60 million records worldwide and being the recipient of numerous academy awards, it is hard to image that pop diva, Shakira, had personal experience with poverty. After the bankruptcy of her father’s business, the Columbian singer and her family were thrown into poverty. While a devastating blow, this event is what the singer credits as being the eye-opening experience that inspired her to do everything she can for the less fortunate. She founded her organization Pies Descalzos (barefoot) as well as ALAS with the children in mind. Shakira generously donates to many other charities as well, with special interests in child welfare and poverty.
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Ever since Rihanna was a young child, she swore that when she grew up, she was going to help children in need. Come stardom few years later, the Grammy award-winning singer kept true to her world and proven her dedication to helping underprivileged children time and time again. This star is never too busy to help those in need, and between creating her Believe foundation to help terminally ill children and meeting her young fans at charity events, Rihanna has once even used her fame to help a mother of two fighting Leukemia find a bone marrow donor.
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Being the youngest person to ever hold the Ripple of Hope Award, it is obvious that Taylor Swift has done a lot to earn her the prestigious charity award. She launched a campaign advocating for internet safety and is known for her participation in both charity concerts and auctions. Swift seems to have a soft spot for giving back and makes large donations to relief efforts whenever the United States faces natural disasters. Her humanitarianism expands well beyond the states though, and she participated in charity events for overseas as well.
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With such active contact with world leaders and policy makers, it can be surprising that this Irish-born singer isn’t a politician himself. The lead singer of U2 has traveled all around the world meeting with some of the most powerful people in order to confront the people’s problems head on in the most effective way he knows how. With such a long list of humanitarian interests from stopping sexual abuse to spreading information about health in developing countries, it can be easier to just say that Bono has a personal mission to make the world a better place.
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This Grammy Award-winning, Oscar nominated celebrity is always in the mood to help those in need. In addition to her generous donations to several different organizations, she has participated in many charity events and even holds the Chairman Award for the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). While the star does not spend as much time in the public eye, she still made the time for a surprise visit to the children of a refugee camp in Syria. While she doesn’t plan a singing comeback, it doesn’t seem she will never stop her charity involvement.
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Matt Damon is much more than an accomplished actor, film producer, and screenwriter. This star is also a huge philanthropist with a mission to help developing countries. His most notable humanitarian achievement, founded H20 Africa which later merged with another charity to make Water.org, which is a foundation we work closely with as well. He aims to make this world a better place for everyone in it. His commitment to helping children, protesting war, and fighting poverty has changed the lives of many in need.
These are just a few of the many socialites that use their fame and wealth for righteous causes. Whether their interests lie in helping the people or the rest of the plants and animals that inhabit the world with us, it is reassuring to see so many individuals using their positions of power for good. We’re all in on this planet together.