Imagine this: you’re a successful celebrity at the tippy top of the A-list demanding millions of dollars per movie, raking in millions when your album goes triple platinum on the charts, barely able to hear your own thoughts over the raucous screams of fans from the bleachers as you make your way onto the field ready to score the winning touchdown. What would you do with all of that money and admiration? Perhaps you would sit comfortably in your spacious, million-dollar mansion that you had custom built and now share with your loved one. Maybe you would travel all around the world, or blow a lot of money on a Lamborghini. Maybe you could use the money to fill your home with all of the latest technological tools designed to make your life just that much easier. Or maybe you would spend every night throwing lavish parties with your fellow A-listers just because you can. Well what about giving some of your money away? What about helping make the world a better place than you found it? Well, if you were anything like these celebs, you would do just that. I have compiled a list of the most charitable celebrities who have made the choice to go far beyond the standard monetary donations to start their own charities for causes closest to their hearts.
Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
As if we needed another reason to love Leo DiCaprio, he goes on to show us that he can not only captivate an audience and capture models’ hearts, but that his charitable contributions are just as big as his legendary star power. Founded in 1988, this foundation is dedicated to bridging the gap between humanity and the natural world in the hopes of creating a harmonious relationship to protect Earth’s wildlife. This foundation has been making great strides and some of their recent philanthropic efforts include saving the last rainforests, protecting tigers from extinction, saving sharks, protecting Antarctica and even providing access to clean water. How ever does Leo make the time?!
Can you imagine living in a world where something as simple as lacking access to clean water can mean the difference between life and death? Well the sad truth is that in many developing countries this is the reality they face. Luckily, actor, father, husband and philanthropist Matt Damon decided to do something about it. In 2009, he teamed up with Gary White to launch Water.org in the hopes of bringing their vision to life: safe water and sanitation for all in our lifetime. Through their work with local communities, and the use of Damon’s star power, they have been able to bring their vision to fruition, helping communities in Africa, South Asia and Central America gain access to clean water and sanitation. Seeing as how every 21 seconds a child dies from a water-related illness, this is a noble feat indeed.
Elton John AIDs Foundation
Sir Elton John is known for many things nowadays: his legendary music career, his occasionally cantankerous demeanor, his outlandish fashion choices and his role as a father. But for all of his quirks, he is still one of the most charitable celebrities around. He established the Elton John AIDs Foundation (EJAF) in the United States in 1992 with the hopes to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDs through prevention programs, direct treatment, support and care for people living with the disease, all the while attempting to reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Just thinking about how isolating and heartbreaking this disease can be, it is quite honorable to put so much effort into finding a way to protect those who are suffering and provide them with even the slightest glimmer of hope and the comfort of knowing that they are not alone. Hats off to you and all those who make it possible, Sir Elton!
Tribeca Film Institute
This non-profit arts organization, founded by the legendary Robert De Niro, along with Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of Sep. 11, 2001, “champions storytellers to be catalysts for change in their communities and around the world,” according to the official website. De Niro and his team are doing their part to keep art alive by empowering diverse filmmakers and media artists to fully realize their stories and help them connect with audiences. I like to consider myself a creative person and a supporter of the arts, so I applaud their efforts to keep art alive and provide up and coming filmmakers with the opportunity to make their dreams a reality. Now if only they could get De Niro to star in one of their films then I would be really impressed!
Although at times it may seem that celebrities are worlds apart from us, it is nice to see that at least some of them remain on planet Earth and are committed to doing their part to leave the world a better place than they found it.