Archive for the Charities Category

Angelina Jolie Visits Refugees In Ecuador

A saint's work is never done

Angelina Jolie, in her role as UN Goodwill Ambassador, made her way to Ecuador this week to visit with refugees there for the first time since she visited the area about 8 years ago. Ecuador has received an influx of refugees due to the horrors going on in Colombia and Angelina decided to make a trip there to assess the situation so she can report back to the United Nations as well as bring some attention to the plight of the refugees there:

Angelina Jolie left Brad Pitt at home with their brood in LA to spend time with refugee children in northern Ecuador this week. The UN Goodwill Ambassador, who was dressed in a white vest and jeans, visited a local daycare centre where she shared a laugh with little ones while playing with a toy set. The Wanted actress is drawing attention to the plight of thousands who fled the conflict in Colombia to start a new life on the other side of the Ecuadorian-Colombian border. Jolie, who turned 35 on June 4, was reunited with a Columbian mother she first met eight years ago during her first visit to Lago Agrio, the capital of Sucumbios province. The actress said: ‘At that time she had a lot of hope for her future. She was recently treated for cancer. She still holds on to hope’ … ‘It’s been eight years since I was last here and UNHCR’s presence has grown considerably,’ Jolie told Ecuadorian reporters. ‘They are going into the thickest parts of the jungle to reach the refugees, who are living in very remote locations and in desperate conditions,’ she added. ‘I wanted to come back and meet with vulnerable people and focus on violence against women and unaccompanied minors. I am so happy to be able to reconnect with some familiar faces, refugees I had met with during my 2002 trip,’ she concluded. It is the latest of many mercy missions for the mother-of-six, who has visited Syria, Bosnia and Haiti in the last few months alone.

I continue to be impressed with Angelina‘s level of commitment to her work as UN Goodwill Ambassador. No matter what she’s got going on in her extremely bizzy personal and professional life, she always makes time to devote her time and energy to visiting affected areas of the world to shine the light of awareness on some very troubled situations. We are all very lucky to never truly understand how horrible the conditions are for the refugees of the world but I feel that as long as folks as famous as Angelina Jolie stay committed to informing us on what is going on, we can at least have some sense of the pain and suffering that our fellow man suffers thru on a daily basis while we live in absolute luxury. I absolutely commend her continued work as UN Goodwill Ambassador and hope that she continues to devote her time and energy to the cause. Even if we never think about these particular people again, I know that some bit of what they are going thru will be kept and remembered in people’s hearts and minds. Maybe that seed will grow and new ways of giving aid will sprout. If you would like to donate and help in any way you can, you can do so HERE.

[Photo credit: Splash News; Source]

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Jennifer Lopez Wants You To ‘Be Extraordinary’

J. Lo teams up with the Boys and Girls Club of America

Jennifer Lopez, Ms. Jenny from the Block herself, was on hand to make an in-person appearance in Times Square, NY today to unveil her new billboard as part of the Be Extraordinary campaign for The Boys and Girls Club of America. Because J. Lo benefited from the Bronx chapter of The Boys and Girls Club when she was just a young’n, she was happy to be part of this new campaign … check it out:

Jennifer Lopez had some help getting into the entertainment industry. An alum of the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx, Lopez credits the club’s “K company” performing arts program with teaching her to sing and dance. “When I started going there, it was the first time I sang, danced and performed in front of an audience. I wanted to be there every day,” Lopez said Thursday at the Times Square unveiling of a Boys and Girls Club billboard featuring a throwback picture of her as a child. “They taught me how to be disciplined and be perseverant and to believe in my God-given talents. They encouraged me to be great in whatever I decided to do. And they taught me that I could do whatever I wanted.” Her billboard message says it all: “Be Extraordinary.” And, she told PEOPLE, she may even bring her twins back to the Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx. “I think it’s really, really important to work hard … Being able to accomplish something with dedication and hard work and commitment. That is something I would like them to learn as well,” she said. Lopez is among 25 celebrities, including Denzel Washington, Ashanti, and Mario Lopez, participating in the BGCA’s youth advocacy campaign. “When Denzel asked me to participate, I had to say yes. I am honored and delighted to be part of the campaign,” she said. “Please join us in helping all kids be great.”

OMG, how much do I LOVE this pic of J. Lo as a wee little girl. Wanna see it close-up? Check it out, along with a newer promo pic for the Boys and Girls Club, after the jump … More »

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‘The Empire Strikes Back’ Celebrates 30 Years With A Special Screening In SoCal

'Empire' state of mind

Last month, you may recall, Entertainment Weekly featured Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back on the cover of their magazine in celebration of the film’s 30th anniversary … but last night, here in SoCal, the film screened in front of a special audience not only to celebrate their 30 years but also to raise much needed funds for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Empire stars like Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams and Peter Mayhew (who played Chewbacca in all of the Star Wars films) were joined by fellow Star Wars alum Ewan McGregor and Darth Vader himself at last night’s event. Here are a few photos from the red carpet arrivals and some deets about this very special benefit screening:

Harrison Ford drew the crowds at a Star Wars reunion in LA. The actor, who played Han Solo in the sci-fi films, was joined by Billy Dee Williams, Peter Mayhew and Ewan McGregor for an event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. The special screening took place at the Arclight Cinema in Hollywood and was held to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Ford, 67, admitted he is slightly out of touch with the movie sequel. “I have not seen it for 30 years,” revealed the star. Explaining why he signed up to the George Lucas features he said: “I was in it for the money. I was an actor and I was looking for a job and looking for an opportunity. I had a family to feed.” Ewan McGregor, meanwhile, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in three prequels to the original series, has revealed he still has a crush on a Star Wars character he fell for as a kid. The Scottish actor said: “I’ve spent a great many years being deeply, deeply in love with Princess Leia. “There’s still a part of my heart that is quite deeply in love with her – both as a character and an actress.”

I understand that tickets for last night’s event were in the hundreds but, as is mentioned above, all of the proceeds went to St. Jude Children’s Hospital … a very worthy cause, I think. After the movie screened last night, some of these celebs were on hand to participate in a Q&A with the audience … which I bet was insanely cool. It’s crazy to think that Empire is already 30 years old but it’s a film that deffo stands up to the test of time. The entire Star Wars saga continues to entertain audiences today just like it did all those years ago. I absolutely believe that we will be celebrating many more anniversaries for the SW films for many years to come.

[Photo credit: Splash News; Source]

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Christina Aguilera Pays A Visit To Haiti

In her role as World Food Programme Ambassador Against Hunger

Christina Aguilera, who just this past weekend was in NYC with her family celebrating Mother’s Day together (and how just announced a new world tour in support of her new album Bionic), has made her way to Haiti as the new Ambassador Against Hunger for the World Food Programme organization. Xtina made her way to Port Au Prince and Leogane this past Tuesday to visit two Haitian schools — Ecole Lysee Fritz Pierre Louis and Ecole Saint Terese de Darbonne. Here is a photo of Xtina in Haiti and some deets from her visit:

WFP’s new Ambassador Against Hunger Christina Aguilera visited two schools in quake-stricken Haiti on Tuesday to meet the children receiving food aid through WFP school meals programmes. Singing Happy Birthday to a class in Leogane, she also voiced her hope for a Haitian rebirth … The world-famous singer helped serve meals of rice and beans to children at the Ecole Lysee Fritz Pierre Louis in Port-au-Prince and at the Ecole Saint Terese de Darbonne, in Leogane, a badly damaged town south of the capital. Aguilera met with WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran while in Haiti to discuss the hunger response after the earthquake. WFP’s operation in the Caribbean nation is shifting away from emergency relief to programmes such as school meals, nutrition schemes and food-for-work projects to help the national recovery effort. During her time with children of Port-au-Prince, Aguilera also sang ‘Happy Birthday Haiti’ to highlight how reconstruction efforts in the country are giving this long-suffering nation the chance of a new start. The singer’s appointment as a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger was announced last week during an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. “A child dies every six seconds of hunger which is a huge statistic for me,” Aguilera told Oprah Winfrey. “After having my own child I just had to be a part of it and do something about it and help change that situation.”

Good for her!! Altho the deadly earthquake in Haiti is already “month’s old”, there is still a lot of devastation and much need in the tiny country. Just because the plight of Haiti is no longer in the news does NOT mean that all of their problems have been solved. They will be dealing with the tragic ramifications of the quake for many years. I’m so glad that Xtina‘s visit may remind US ALL that there is still much need in Haiti for relief. After the jump, check out a few more photos from Xtina‘s trip to Haiti this week … More »

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Angelina Jolie Visits Refugees In Bosnia

Spreading Hope and Goodwill

Yesterday we learned that Angelina Jolie and fauxhubby Brad Pitt made their way to Bosnia to visit with refugees there on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and today we get to see photos of Angelina with some of the people she met in Bosnia … behold:

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has called for steps to end the continuing suffering of displaced victims of the Bosnian War after hearing their harrowing tales and seeing their grim living conditions during a brief visit this week. Jolie, travelling with her partner Brad Pitt, on Monday took a break from filming to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina and highlight the plight of 113,000 Bosnians and 7,000 refugees from Croatia. These people were forced from their homes during the violent break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and many of them are living in collective centres, often in appalling conditions. The acclaimed actress was clearly moved by the spirit – and the suffering – of the people she met and she pledged to highlight their case. Most of the people she talked to have been living far from home for well over a decade. Many of their children were born in exile and have never seen where their families come from. Jolie kicked off her first trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina by visiting a crumbling and dilapidated collective centre in the eastern town of Gorazde, which lies on the Drina River and was a UN-protected enclave throughout the 1992-1995 war. She and Pitt visited another collective centre housing displaced people in Rogatica, where the inhabitants told the couple about the daily hardships they endure, including a lack of basic services such as running water. “After seeing these people and hearing their stories, I cannot overemphasize the need to focus on the well-being of the most vulnerable individuals of the population,” Jolie said, adding that by “ending displacement and ensuring quality of life, we can help to promote progress and long-term stability.” Among these “most vulnerable individuals” were a group of internally displaced women who suffered very bad experiences during the war. While Pitt went off to speak to their menfolk, Jolie spent some private time with the women. After the meeting, an emotional Jolie said they had told her about the ordeal they had suffered before escaping to Gorazde during the war, including rape and torture. “I have my body, but it no longer has a soul,” one woman told her.

More details of Brangelina‘s visit to Bosnia continue after the jump … More »

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Madonna Lays The Foundation For A New Girls’ School In Malawi

"Dare to Dream"

Last week we learned that Madonna and her children made their way to London, England from NYC, NY for a stop-over on their eventual journey to Malawi, Africa. Madge has promised to bring her adopted children back to their homeland as frequently as possible so that they will grow up knowing where they came from. But this latest visit to Malawi served another purpose as well. Maddy was on hand to lay the first bring in the foundation of a new girls’ school that is being built in Malawi … check it out:

It was a poignant moment, but the significance of which may not be recognised by the four-year-old girl adopted by Madonna at just this moment. Mercy James joined her mother and sister Lourdes as she returned to Malawi for the ceremony to lay the first brick for the foundations of a £10million school for girls in the impoverished country. The brick had the inscription Raising Malawi Academy for Girls and the motto, Dare to Dream etched into it. ‘It has always been my dream to train women leaders who can help develop the country,’ Madonna said during the event. The ceremony, held at the site of the school in Chinkhota village, some 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the capital Lilongwe, was attended by education officials and curious villagers. ‘I grew up as a poor girl with my mother, I had no chance for good education. It is my aim to see Malawian girls get the right education,’ Madonna said.

The brick-laying ceremony was only the latest endeavor that Madonna participated in during her visit to Malawi. She was also on hand yesterday to participate in the unveiling of a much-needed fresh water pump in the district of Mchinji. At that event, she was aided by her youngest daughter Chifundo Mercy James. After the jump, check out a few photos from that event … More »

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Celebs On A ‘Mission’ To Spread Easter Cheer

Good Deeds

Here are a few photos of some of the celebs who made their way to the Los Angeles Mission yesterday to help serve Easter holiday dinners to the homeless people in the area. As you may recall, the LA Mission invites celebs to come help serve food on during the holidays (like last Xmas) and this weekend celebs like Haylie Duff, Gale Harold, Beverley Mitchell and Kate Linder (from The Young and the Restless) heeded the call:

The Los Angeles Mission prepared meals, Easter baskets and more early Friday morning to serve thousands of people in need for Good Friday. The mission will be handing out 1,000 Easter baskets, donated by JAKKS Pacific, to children and 2,000 pairs of shoes, donated by Etnies, to homeless adults and children. “Although the economy some people say is recovering a little bit, we’re not seeing that in the day-to-day needs,” said Herb Smith of the Los Angeles Mission. A long line that wrapped around the block was proof of the continued hardship. The mission is expecting to feed at least 3,000 people, but they’re cooking for about 4,000 just in case more show up. “Our motto is, it’s hope in a meal, so we want to make sure we give them a nice healthy meal and tell them, ‘hey,we love you, keep coming, we’re here to help you get back on your feet,’” said Chef David Thomas. Thomas said they are cooking almost 2 tons of ham, 1,500 pounds of macaroni and vegetables. “It’s a lot of work right now. We’re running back and forth to make sure it’s all done,” Thomas said. Thomas said the mission has been seeing a lot more families in the past year. “We love (the needy) here at the Los Angeles Mission,” Thomas said. “We want to make sure it’s a really comfortable meal, just like a home setting.”

This is so wonderful. It’s so great that celebs choose to give of their time during the holidays but it should not be forgotten that the people who volunteer at the LA Mission all year long are the real heroes here. There is far too much need in this world … but places like the LA Mission help fulfill those needs as much as they can — and they should be applauded. Not everyone can volunteer but everyone CAN DONATE … so if you are feeling especially generous, you can make a donation to the LA Mission HERE so that free meals like these can continue to be served to the people who really need them :)

[Photo credit: Splash News; Source]

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Celebs Team Up To ‘Target Breast Cancer’

Barely there

Beautiful celebs like Kylie Minogue, Sienna Miller and Claudia Schiffer have teamed up to appear in photographs shot by Mario Testino for the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign (which, is the fashion industry’s response to breast cancer that raises awareness and much-needed funds for research). Here is Kylie‘s photo along with some deets about this year’s campaign:

Four years after she beat breast cancer, Kylie Minogue is raising awareness of the disease in a stunning new campaign. The 41-year-old strips off and wears nothing but a smile and silk sheet with the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer logo across in a striking image taken by acclaimed photographer Mario Testino. Joining Minogue in the revealing new campaign … is pregnant supermodel Claudia Schiffer and actress Sienna Miller. Minogue’s involvement in the campaign comes nearly five years after she was diagnosed with the disease in May 2005. After a year of treatment, which involved a partial mastectomy to remove a malignant tumour, followed by eight months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the pop star was given the all clear in 2006 and was able to resume her Showgirl tour in November 2006. She said: ‘It means so much to me to be part of this year’s campaign for Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. ‘I wholeheartedly support their efforts to raise funds for the vital work undertaken by Breakthrough Breast Cancer.’ The new images coincide with the launch of the new Target campaign, which raises money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer in partnership with various retail outlets. The campaign has raised over £10.5million for the charity since it launched in 1996. Thirty per cent of items on sale for the campaign will go directly to Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Visit fashiontargetsbreastcancer.org for more information.

I love this campaign … I’m so glad to see that it’s still going strong all these years after it was launched in ’96. I can’t think of a better spokesmodel than Kylie Minogue … but Sienna Miller and Claudia Schiffer do a pretty good job as spokesmodels as well. Check out their photos after the jump … More »

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Watch: David Beckham, ‘Sport Relief 2010’

Bromance

Back in January we learned that David Beckham posed for a special t-shirt with his picture on it that is being sold to raise money for the UK charity Sport Relief and in February we learned that he teamed up with comic actor James Corden to film a funny sketch to air on the Sport Relief 2010 telethon on UK television. Last night, Sport Relief aired in Europe and today we get to check out the skit that Becks did with Corden. Altho Becks is obviously very bummed these days due to the Achilles tendon injury which destroyed his last chance to compete in the World Cup this year, this funny skit shows Becks in much happier times … in bed with another man:

[Last] weekend David Beckham was in floods of tears after an Achille’s tendon injury put paid to his World Cup dreams this summer. And last night, he was crying again, but this time it was purely for comedy effect as he starred in a comedy skit for Sport Relief with James Corden. The Gavin And Stacey star and sportsman shared a bath together and got emotional as they held hands in bed watching Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie Minogue) getting married in Neighbours. As they watched the Australian soap, a teary Becks says: ‘Don’t you think they are amazing together those two,’ to which Corden replies: ‘I think we’re amazing together’. The duo’s me-time, in which they are seen in fluffy robes, was part of a star-studded sketch in which Corden’s Gavin And Stacey character Smithy coaches a series of top stars including Andy Murray, Tom Daley, Jenson Button and the Manchester United squad featuring Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand. And after his hard work, Smithy takes a well-earned break, for a night in with the image-conscious LA Galaxy star. Away from the prying eyes of Victoria and Nessa, the boys indulge in a spot of preening. The pair share a bath together and James Corden tends to Becks’ hair, before they share a tender moment. The comedy actor said of his meeting: ‘I just wanted to lick him. Honestly, he was unbelievably nice. We went out for dinner, we went out, we socialised, we had a great time,’ he told Heat magazine. ‘And I was looking at him thinking, “Here’s a guy who’s had some truly nasty, horrible things written about him and his family in the past and yet he’s never spoken back about it, he’s always nice and is nothing but respectful to everybody”.’ He added: ‘The impact he has on everyone he meets is amazing. He was just lovely. I do feel like I sort of fell in love with him, genuinely.
Sport Relief You know when you have a crush on someone, meet them and then you go away and think, “Oh that was weird?”. It was like that – such great fun.’

Fortunately, a clip of the skit has made its way to the Internets … trust me, it’s worth seeing. James Corden — in the guise of humor — gets to live out the fantasy of countless Beckham fans in this minute and a half clip. Check it out in full, after the jump … More »

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Prince Harry Lends Support To Charity Bike Ride

Lending a Royal hand

Prince Harry made a public appearance at a stop over of England Ruby star Lawrence Dallaglio‘s quest to bike ride across Europe to raise money for charity. Dallaglio and others are attempting to raise £1 million for Sport Relief, a charity that funds other charities like Cancer Research, DebRA, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Help For Heroes and RPA Benevolent Fund. While Harry did not partake in the bike ride, he did show up to lend his public support of the endeavor to help raise awareness with his Royal hotness:

Prince Harry met former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio as he took a break from a 2,800km charity bike ride. The group of cyclists, led by the former rugby hero, are pedalling across Europe on a trek that aims to raise £1 million. They arrived at London’s Twickenham stadium this afternoon after completing around half of their gruelling journey. Harry, vice-patron of England Rugby Football Union, shared some banter with a group of riders when Dallaglio introduced the royal to the fundraisers. The riders are taking part in the Dallaglio Cycle Slam to raise £1 million for charity. The former rugby star and friends are riding to all the stadiums featured in the RBS Six Nations championship, having started in Rome earlier this month and also visited Paris. Money raised will be donated to Sport Relief and the newly-formed Dallaglio Foundation, whose beneficiaries are Cancer Research, DebRA, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Help For Heroes and RPA Benevolent Fund. Dallaglio said: ”It’s been an amazing journey so far. It’s great that Harry is here to support us.” A St James’ Palace spokeswoman said the prince was keen to support the fundraising efforts of Dallaglio and all those taking part in the bike ride

Even tho Harry isn’t biking himself, I still applaud him for showing up to lend his support in an attempt to raise awareness so that the bikers’ endeavor is a successful one. Sure, I’d love to see Prince Harry all decked out and squeezed into a spandex biking outfit just like anyone else but … well, I guess it wasn’t meant to be this time around. I don’t mind the young ginger prince in his nifty shirt and tie … not one bit :) Kudos and good luck to all the riders on this very important journey for charity!!

[Photo credit: Bauer-Griffin; Source]

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