By Tim Saunders on
2007 was a year of giving, both on grand and not-so-grand scales. Celebrities from all fields, be it movies, music, sport or general entertainment, showed compassion beyond the call of duty, and in most cases had a lot of fun doing it.
Without a doubt, one of the biggest events of the year was Live Earth in July, where stars new and old shone in all of the corners of the Earth to raise awareness of the plight of the planet. The shows were generally well-received, and led to organizer Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
But celebrities also participated in smaller, more personal acts of kindness in 2007. Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Melissa Gilbert, and Michael Douglas all donated their time to feed the hungry at the Los Angeles Mission, Fran Drescher launched the Cancer Schmancer Movement, and Ewan McGregor visited UNICEF projects during his epic motorcycle trip across Africa.
In January, Kevin Bacon launched www.sixdegrees.org, a website designed to marry the concepts of social internet networks and charities. The site aims to help people fundraise for their chosen causes, and features celebrities such as Kyra Sedgwick and Ashley Judd.
Bette Midler, founder of the New York Restoration Project, launched the Million Trees NYC initiative with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in October, to get city dwellers to plant more trees. The project plans to increase New York’s urban forest by 20% in the next ten years.
“To walk under the branches of a tree that you have planted connects you to the roots of our past and the aspirations of our future,” said the 62-year-old singer and actress.
Another singer with a sense of community in 2007 was Jon Bon Jovi who, as well as participating in various benefit concerts, also worked with Project HOME to revitalize a deteriorated lot in Philadelphia and transform it into homes for fifteen families.
And then there was Shakira, co-founder of the Latin America for Solidarity Fund and Pies Descalzos, who donated $40 million to victims of natural disasters in Peru and Nicaragua, and another $5 million to benefit education programs for children across Latin America.
The California wildfires that ravaged much of the state in November also spawned a spate of celebrity donations, with Linkin Park, the Eagles, and Gwen Stefani all making substantial contributions to both victims and firefighters.
American Idol gave back in April, with two shows that raised over $60 million to benefit organizations funding relief programs in America and Africa, featuring performances by Kelly Clarkson, Madonna, and others. Organized by Simon Cowell, American Idol Gives Back also led to a $100,000 donation by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
Another talk show host to shine this year was Oprah Winfrey, who opened a state-of-the-art school in South Africa for disadvantaged girls.
“I am creating everything in this school that I would have wanted for myself—so the girls will have the absolute best that my imagination can offer,” said the 53-year-old, who poured $40 million of her own money into the project.
Brad Pitt took on the mission of rebuilding New Orleans by donating $5 million towards new houses, and also set up the Make It Right Foundation to assist in his work. Meanwhile, his wife Angelina Jolie set out to do what her character Lara Croft does best – save the world. As well as donating $100,000 to build the Duk Lost Boys Medical Clinic in the Sudan in March, Jolie also traveled to Iraq and Syria to raise support for those displaced by war.
Although literally tonnes of articles were written about Jolie’s efforts during 2007, even more was reported on Don Cheadle's and George Clooney's work to publicize the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The stars of Ocean’s Thirteen established a charity for the Sudanese region called Not On Our Watch, and personally raised over $9 million to help those affected by conflict in the region. The pair were awarded a special peace prize by Nobel laureates for their efforts.
And no round up of the year’s events can be complete without mention of Bono, who continued being Bono by doing what Bono does best – raising awareness for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the needy, and the disadvantaged.
We at Look To The Stars would like to wish all of our readers a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year, and we look forward to continuing to bring you celebrity charity news in 2008.
Copyright © 2007 Look to the Stars