Thursday, December 18, 2014

Doing Well By Doing Good

kdmblogcelebsAfter devoting a substantial number of column inches this past year to high-profile scandals and bad behavior, I was delighted recently to read about the work of DoSomething.org, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to motivate young people to take action for social change. 

Every year, Do Something compiles a list of “Celebs Gone Good”:  stars whose commitment to acts of charity set them apart from their peers.  Here are the 2013 top ten.

 

 

 

The Top 10 winners in 2013

 

 

1. Taylor Swift
2. One Direction
3. Beyoncé
4. Paul Walker
5. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
6. Sandra Bullock
7. Kerry Washington
8. Ian Somerhalder
9. Ryan Seacrest
10. Carrie Underwood

Up for consideration today are the candidates for 2014’s “Celebs Gone Good” honors.   Voting ends December 24th.  

I will be casting my vote for two worthy contenders who were passed over last year:  Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  I’ve done my own, thoroughly unscientific, research, and I am impressed with the honesty, decency and care for mankind embodied by this power pair.  Here are a few examples, culled from the pages of IMDb.

BRAD PITT

  • Visited orphans affected by HIV at a facility run by The Salvation Army in South Africa to call attention to South Africa's devastating AIDS epidemic.
  • Donated $5 million of his own money to rebuild homes in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.
  • Visited Pakistan to see the impact of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and, in the following year, journeyed to Haiti to visit a school supported by Haitian-born hip hop musician Wyclef Jean.
  • Traveled with Angelina Jolie to Syria and Jordan on a United Nations Goodwill visit to displaced Iraqi civilians.
  • Pitt has reportedly said:  “What's valuable to me has become clearer as I've got older. To me, it's about the value of your time and your day and the value of the people you spend it with. It's about me being a strong father and guide and a good match for my significant other.”

ANGELINA JOLIE

  • Appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland, after visiting Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Pakistan.
  • In 2006, after the birth of her daughter, she sold the first pictures of her newborn for more than $4 million, which she donated to charity.
  • A guest writer for The Economist's special edition The World in 2008, in which she wrote:  “Accountability is perhaps the only force powerful enough to break the cycle of violence and retribution that marks so many conflicts ... When crimes against humanity are punished consistently and severely, the killers' calculus will change."
  • Wrote a New York Times op-ed, titled "My Medical Choice," in which she revealed that she had undergone a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction because she is a carrier of a "faulty" gene, BRCA1 … thus throwing a spotlight on a significant women’s health issue.
  • On what she does with the money she makes each year:  “Save one-third, live on one-third and give away one-third.”

According to the “Celebs Gone Good” survey, last year’s most charitable celebrity was two-time winner Taylor Swift, as a result of her work at the Winter White Gala in London, a benefit for homeless youth, as well as a $100,000 donation she made to the Nashville Symphony to celebrate her 24th birthday.

The #2 spot is occupied by One Direction, a British pop boy band based in London, who raised nearly $3.3 million to help those living in poverty across the UK and Africa and more than $800,000 in donations for cancer research.

Singer, songwriter and actress Beyoncé — #3 on the list — headlined a charity concert for Chime for Change, a campaign to support female empowerment.  She also works with Goodwill to create jobs throughout North America.

It’s great that acts of goodness are valued by so many.  My guess is that this kind of charity also strengthens the attachment of fans to their idols and sets a standard to which they can aspire.