The global coronavirus pandemic has hit the entire world hard, and times are tough right now. But the worst in history has always tended to bring out the best in people. Through the lockdowns and quarantines, the packed hospitals and spiraling infection rates, we’ve also witnessed some truly uplifting moments from the big to the small. The heroic medical professionals who rush in to help where everyone else has rushed out, hockey equipment companies and fashion houses using their capabilities to make personal protective equipment for those medical professionals, opera singers serenading people from their balconies, entire neighborhoods having balcony parties, to teachers, like my sisters, making signs to keep their students going, to this incredible picture:
Man, what a picture from Mike Segar of Reuters. pic.twitter.com/4anffpa65U
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) March 30, 2020
The list of selfless acts and small kindnesses goes on. It’s like John Keats wrote back in 1819: “There is an electric fire in human nature tending to purify – so that among these human creatures there is continually some birth of new heroism.”
But it’s not just normal people and medical professionals who are finding ways to help. Celebrities have also been stepping up and doing what they can, using their considerable funds and connections to help in tangible ways. Let’s shine a spotlight on some of them.
1. Ryan Reynolds & Blake Lively Are Giving Back Machines
The charity of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively has been well-documented before, but during the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve gone above and beyond. Here’s what they’ve done so far:
- Donated $1 million to U.S. and Canadian food banks
- Donated $400,000 to NYC hospitals
- Providing free data through Reynolds’ Mint Mobile company
And with his new company, Aviation Gin, Reynolds is doing even more: The company donated $15k to the United States Bartenders Guild to help struggling bartenders and another $10k to the equivalent in Canada. On top of that, they’ll be donating an additional 30% of the proceeds from every bottle delivered through May 1st.
In a recent Skype interview with Stephen Colbert, Reynolds talked about his blue-collar roots and why he wanted to give back to service industry workers: “I worked at two different restaurants… I worked at a grocery store… Working in the service industry and working in a grocery store, I think those jobs taught me more about working in Hollywood than almost anything I’ve ever done. Working those jobs taught me a real steadfast kind of accountability.”
2. Leonardo DiCaprio Helps Launch America’s Food Fund
The Oscar-winning actor might be fairly reclusive in his private life, but he’s a serious do-gooder and has been involved in activist and charity endeavors for decades. Together with philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, he just co-founded America’s Food Fund, which, with the help of Apple and the Ford Foundation, has already raised $12 million. The organization is meant to help feed those who need it most: low-income families, children who rely on school lunch programs, the elderly, and those facing poverty due to job loss and it will work closely with hunger relief organizations World Central Kitchen and Feeding America.
“In the face of this crisis, organizations like World Central Kitchen and Feeding America have inspired us all with their unwavering commitment to feed the most vulnerable people in need,” DiCaprio said about the fund. “I thank them for their tireless work on the frontlines, they deserve all of our support.”
And, good news: Oprah Winfrey has already donated $1 million to America’s Food Fund, along with another $10 million to fighting hunger elsewhere.
3. Rihanna’s Foundation Donates $5 Million To Help Frontline Workers
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We’ve responded to COVID-19 by distributing $5 million in grants to @PartnersInHealth @DirectRelief @FeedingAmerica @RescueOrg @WHO and #Barbados to prepare communities w/ critical protective gear, medical supplies, equipment and access to food across multiple countries and regions. #CLF #HealthcareHeroes 📷: Partners in Health
Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation has been doing good since she launched it in 2012, with the aim of supporting education and emergency response programs all around the world. So it’s no surprise that the foundation donated $5 million to various organizations with a focus on “[preparing] communities with critical protective gear, medical supplies, equipment and access to food across multiple countries and regions.”
The organizations being helped include Partners in Health, Direct Relief, Feeding America, the International Rescue Committee and the World Health Organization, along with Rihanna’s native country of Barbados.
4. Ben Affleck Is Using His Platform To Raise Money For Charities
In a quieter way, actor Ben Affleck has been using his massive following (4.1 million followers on Instagram, 2.9 million on Twitter) to raise awareness for various charities and getting people engaged. Through March, he’s donated to a trio of charities and encouraged his followers to donate. On March 25, he tweeted that he’d donated to the Midnight Mission, which provides meals to the homeless in Los Angeles:
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) March 25, 2020
A few days later, he encouraged his followers to donate to Yashar Ali’s GoFundMe for Robin Hood and Tipping Point, two anti-poverty organizations that have vowed to give cash donations to hourly workers losing wages due to business closures:
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) March 28, 2020
And right now, his pinned tweet asks people to head to Feeding America and donate if they can:
During this time, I’m thinking about our most vulnerable – children losing access to meals they rely on, friends and family who are facing job disruptions, the elderly, and low-income families. Join me in supporting @FeedingAmerica: https://t.co/4Cl6Dz2DNX
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) March 15, 2020
It might not be as big and splashy as some other celebrity charitable endeavors, but lots of small steps add up to something big.
5. Amy Adams & Jennifer Garner Launch Save With Stories
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“The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark” by Ken Geist, illustrated by Julia Gorton (published by @scholasticinc) . THIRTY MILLION CHILDREN rely on school for food. Responding to the needs of kids during school closures, @savethechildren and @nokidhungry have a new fund @SAVEWITHSTORIES to support food banks, and mobile meal trucks, and community feeding programs with funds to do what they do best—and also—with educational toys, books, and worksheets to make sure brains are full, as well as bellies. . If you can manage a one time gift of $10, please text SAVE to 20222. If another amount would work better for you, please visit our website—link in bio. There is no maximum and there is no minimum—together we will rise and together we can help. . Thank you and stay safe. XX #SAVEWITHSTORIES
The two actresses are taking a unique approach to helping out during the coronavirus. They’ve teamed up to launch Save with Stories, an initiative with Save the Children and No Kid Hungry. The pair are reading children’s stories on social media to fundraise for kids who are going hungry during the pandemic. Garner explained in the launch video that 30 million children rely on schools for food, saying
“These funds will help us make sure that families know how to find meals when schools are closed, support mobile meal trucks, food banks and other community feeding programs, provide educational toys, books and worksheets, and support out-of-school-time programs to help kids make up for lost time in the classroom.”
The initiative even got the social media-averse Adams to join Instagram! She read “The Dinosaur Princess,” written by her daughter and illustrated by her husband for her first post ever.
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I’ve decided to finally join to shine a spotlight on kids across the country who need our help and support during this difficult time. My friend @jennifer.garner and I are launching @SAVEWITHSTORIES – a spot to watch your favorite celebrities read your favorite children’s books. We are galvanizing as a community to support a new fund for a combined effort between SAVE THE CHILDREN and Share Our Strength’s NO KID HUNGRY (and a big thank you to our founding publisher, Scholastic♥️). THIRTY MILLION CHILDREN in the United States rely on school for food. School closures will hit vulnerable communities hard and @savethechildren and @nokidhungry are on the ground and ready to serve. They just need our help! These funds will help us make sure that families know how to find meals when schools are closed, support mobile meal trucks, food banks and other community feeding programs, provide educational toys, books and worksheets, and support out-of-school-time programs to help kids make up for lost time in the classroom. If you can manage a one time gift of $10, please text SAVE to 20222. If another amount would work better for you, please visit our website—link in bio. There is no maximum and there is no minimum—together we will rise and together we can help. #SAVEWITHSTORIES
6. Angelina Jolie Also Donated So Kids Won’t Go Hungry
Actress and well-known activist Angelina Jolie also had hungry kids on her mind and donated $1 million to No Kid Hungry. “As of this week, over a billion children are out of school worldwide because of closures linked to coronavirus,” she said in a statement. “Many children depend on the care and nutrition they receive during school hours, including nearly 22 million children in America who rely on food support. No Kid Hungry is making resolute efforts to reach as many of those children as possible.”
7. Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs Is Donating Profits To LA & NYC Food Banks
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To Our HAUS, In the midst of COVID-19, it can be easy to feel powerless. We've been thinking a lot about our community and responsibilities in this time of uncertainty. Social distancing is one of the most important things we can do to control the spread of this virus and we encourage our community from across the world to participate if you can. As another way to take action, HAUS will be giving back to our Los Angeles & New York City communities by donating 20% of our profits from last week’s sales on Hauslabs.com to local food banks (@lafoodbank & @foodbank4nyc) in order to get food to those affected by the closing of schools and other places that offer this critical resource. Stay safe and strong for yourself and others. Sending love from our HAUS to yours 🖤
Lady Gaga’s launched her makeup company, HAUS Labs, as a way to offer makeup that was vegan and cruelty-free. She announced that they donated 20% of their profits from the past week to local food banks in Los Angeles and California. Gaga also announced that she personally had donated to DiCaprio’s America’s Food Fund.
8. Kristen Bell & Dax Shepherd Waive Rent For Their Tenants
Entrepreneurial couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd are landlords with a few properties throughout Los Angeles – who knew? A manager from their company, Pringus Property LLC, emailed all its tenants to state that rent for April had been waived. The manager, who is Shepherd’s sister, also promised to work with tenants moving forward as the crisis continues to unfold.
May we all have such lenient landlords.
Still other celebrities are helping out in other small ways, from reading stories to encouraging high schoolers who might be feeling discouraged right now.
9. Laura Benanti Invites High Schoolers To Share Their Canceled Musicals With Her
Famed Broadway actress Laura Benanti was thinking about all the high school students who have put so much work and effort into their musicals only to find them canceled now. She invited them all to share their hard work with her, even if she’s only an audience of one:
Dark times for all. Trying to find some bright spots. If you were meant to perform in your High School musical and it was cancelled please post yourself singing and tag me. I want to be your audience!! Sending all my love and black market toilet paper. 💛 pic.twitter.com/BVYR4t3dJE
— Laura Benanti (@LauraBenanti) March 13, 2020
“Trying to find some bright spots. If you were meant to perform in your high school musical and it was canceled, please post yourself singing and tag me,” she said in her tweet. “I want to be your audience! Sending all my love and black market toilet paper.”
The responses were incredible, with kids and parents all over sending in videos of themselves singing the songs they were supposed to have sung on stage to a live audience, with thousands of Twitter users instead becoming a virtual one.
10. Josh Gad Reads Bedtime Stories
The famous voice of Olaf realized that parents might be a little frazzled right now so he offered his services to give parents a few minutes of free time, reading a children’s bedtime story.
“Since we’re all stuck at home right now,” he said, “I figured we would have a little fun together, so I’m going to see how this goes, but I decided I’m gonna read to your and your children or just you, depending on what you prefer. I’m not gonna pass judgment right now since the world is a little bit of a hot mess.”
He said he’d try to do it every night and so far he’s been good on his word.
11. Lizzo Hosts A Meditation Session On Instagram
The world is on fire right now and things might feel chaotic, so Lizzo took to Instagram to do what she does best: play music.
“A meditation and mantra to promote healing during this global crisis. Use at your own pace. Love you!” she wrote on the caption.
I have a feeling we’ll all be listening to this over and over again for the next month.