Celebrities make headlines every single day. The lesser present them as gossip-mill commodities, while others focus on their latest red carpet appearances or fashion editorials. It’s rare that we get a glimpse into the good that many of them are doing for the world. While some people may believe that celebs only donate to, and support charities and funds to make themselves look better, a little more faith in our stars is needed. When you recognize the efforts that they make, not to mention their lifelong commitments to combatting certain world problems, it’s clear to see that they feel strongly for given issues and are doing their best to spark change for the better.
Matt Damon, for example, used the ASL ice bucket challenge to bring light to the lesser talked about, yet traumatic issue of water scarcity, which he advocates through his organization water.org; Charlize Theron is working with her foundation to prevent HIV and to eliminate violence against women in Africa; and Angelina Jolie has become a loud voice for refugees and displaced persons in third world countries, among many, many other philanthropic efforts.
They, along with others are using their fame and fortune for good. Take a look at 15 celebrities who are making a big difference in the world.
In 2010, Ben Affleck founded the Eastern Congo Initiative to address the issue of child mortality rates. The Republic of Congo has one of the highest mortality rates in the world, and the Initiative works for and with people of eastern Congo to provide opportunities for social and economic development.
While the world caught on to the ASL Ice Bucket Challenge, using social media to bring awareness to the disease, Matt Damon used the philanthropic challenge to talk about water scarcity. Millions of gallons of clean water were tossed for the challenge, so Damon dumped toilet bowl water over his head to make his point. He’s also the co-founder of water.org, and is dedicated to bringing awareness and education around the issue. As he mentions in his video: 780 million people in the world don’t have access to clean water, and 2.4 billion are without adequate sanitation.
He’s not just a pretty face. Following Barack Obama’s executive plans to protect marine areas, Leonardo DiCaprio donated $7 million toward ocean conservation. Last September he also spoke up about the issue of climate change at the U.N.’s Climate Summit in New York, claiming "this is not a partisan debate, it is a human one…clean air and a livable climate are inalienable human rights." At 24, he started the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to preserve and protect nature and wildlife around the globe and the UN Nations has named him a U.N. Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change.
On the heels of the catastrophic earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, Sandra Bullock was quick to donate $1 million to support Doctors Without Borders in order to quick-start relief efforts. Her contribution went towards the organization’s emergency operations in Port-Au-Prince, where three of the organization’s facilities were ruined by the earthquake.
It’s no secret that Angelina Jolie is a humanitarian do-gooder. From adopting children from poverty stricken countries to going on field missions around the world to meet with and create a voice for refugees, she’s always using her fame and money for good. Along with her husband, Brad Pitt, she formed the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which is dedicated to eliminating extreme rural poverty, creating peace and protecting natural resources. Her list of philanthropic endeavours goes on and on, so it’s no wonder some refer to her as Saint Angie.
In July 2014, fresh from her college graduation, Emma Watson was named a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador. A few months later, as part of the “HeForShe” campaign at the U.N. Head Quarters in New York, she changed the conversation about feminism. Her speech brought attention to the issue of gender inequality and the importance of acknowledging it as a human rights issue that affects everyone.
Elton John is a huge contributor towards AIDS research, founding the Elton John AIDS Foundation in the 80’s. The non-profit organization funds care services for patients fighting the disease, as well as AIDS prevention education. John has also made significant donations to over 50 charity organizations over the years that include; disaster relief, cancer, bullying, homelessness, hunger and gay/lesbian equality.
Known for her role as Maritza Romas, the tough Latina in Orange is the New Black, Diane Guerrero spoke out to CNN in 2014 about the issue of undocumented immigrants. She was the child of undocumented parents and at the age of 14 she came home to an empty house, her parents taken away by immigration officers. Soon after, Obama implemented a number of executive actions to protect undocumented immigrants in the United States, as well as provide them with work permits. Bringing this issue to light has paved the way for change.
Gwyneth Paltrow lost her father, Bruce to cancer back in 2002. A cause close to her heart, she has co-produced the Stand Up To Cancer television special twice, working alongside Joel Gallen. "Cancer profoundly touched my life when I lost my father to the disease twelve years ago, and Stand Up To Cancer gives me a powerful platform to fight for a cause that I'm passionate about," she said. One hundred percent of the funds made during the show go towards accelerating groundbreaking cancer research.
Bono has been deemed one of society’s “most influential” people and has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, so if that doesn’t say something I don’t know what does. He is continually engaged with philanthropic work, being an advocate for human rights, AIDS research and awareness, poverty, proper economics and more.
In 2007, the actress founded the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, whose mission is to keep African youth safe from HIV through grant giving, networking and supporting community-based organizations that implement innovative HIV prevention programs. She became a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2009, focusing, again on HIV prevention, as well as the elimination of violence against women. On top of that, in support of ovarian cancer research and awareness, she assisted with the design and signed a pair of shoes for the Stuart Weitzman shoe auction, which benefitted the cause.
A silent donator, Keanu Reeves typically refrains from placing his name on his charity donations, even though he is extremely generous. He’s claimed that he uses a private foundation to donate money to children’s hospitals, and is known to have donated a significant amount to leukemia research, as one of his sister’s is battling the disease. He is also just straight up considerate. After The Matrix and its sequels dominated the box offices, he gave an estimated $80 million of his $114 million earnings to special effects and makeup staff – the people who make his career possible. If everyone was a little more like him, the world would be a better place.
Just like his wife, Brad Pitt is admirably using his fame and fortune to change the world. Following his efforts to build homes in New Orleans for families after hurricane Katrina, he founded The Make It Right Foundation in 2007, a non-profit that supplies sustainable and affordable housing to communities around the world. He also works with the non-profit Global Green, in attempt to make green housing a nationally available housing option. This effort gained him a meeting with President Obama to talk about funding and an award from U.S. Green Building.
On top of donating to organizations and charities such as the It Gets Better Project, Red Cross and American Foundation for AIDS Research, the pop star founded the Born This Way foundation that tackles relevant issues that young people face today such as self-confidence, bullying, well-being and advocacy. With a long history of action for the empowerment of youth, the foundation aims to create a “braver, kinder world” with safe spaces that protect and nurture those who have been bullied or abandoned.
With the founding of her eco-friendly baby company, The Honest Company, Alba’s values are clear: she wants to make the world a better place by providing healthy and clean products for our most fragile humans. The affordable products are sustainable and safe to use on babies. She has also supported countless charities such as US Doctors for Africa, V-Day, Baby2Baby and Feeding America.