Celebrities are often known for their charitable donations. Whether they’re NBA superstars, Hollywood actresses or chart-topping singers, charity work doesn’t discriminate, and the world’s biggest celebrities frequently donate or spend their free time volunteering with charitable organizations that are important to them.
There are the classic organizations that many celebrities choose to be involved with such as UNICEF or the Red Cross, but some celebrities choose to spend their time and money a little closer to home. LeBron James, Tyler Perry, Eminem — they’re all giving back to their hometowns, and here’s how.
Los Angeles Clippers small forward and California-native Kawhi Leonard announced in August 2019 that he would be partnering with the non-profit Baby2Baby in an effort to donate 1 million backpacks to lower-income families. The backpacks will specifically go to children in the Southern California’s Inglewood, Los Angeles, and Moreno Valley Unified School Districts, among others.
It’s reported that this donation will ensure that every single student in those districts will be given a new backpack at the beginning of the 2019 school year.
LeBron James and the LeBron James Family Foundation are making a difference in the education system of Akron, Ohio, which is James’ hometown. The LJFF has given over 1,000 four-year scholarships to high school students attending the University of Akron but felt that wasn’t enough.
James and his foundation now have programs that start in elementary school to ensure that underprivileged African-American children are receiving the attention they need from a young age, not just once they’re in high school and potentially too far behind to consider university. Accessible, stable education is what James and his foundation are all about.
Since becoming famous, pop star Beyoncé has been donating large amounts to her home city of Houston, Texas, and specifically to the church that she and her family attended when she was growing up.
Long-time pastor and friend Reverend Rudy Rasmus, who also presided over Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s 2008 wedding, said she’s donated money to the church and the community to aid with the homeless population in Houston. She is also rumored to have donated $7 million towards a low-income housing complex, though Reverend Rasmus never confirmed that amount.
In 2017, rapper and producer Dr. Dre donated $10 million dollars to fund a performing arts center at Compton High School in his hometown of Compton, California. The center is accessible to all students as well as to the community and features a 1200 seat theater as well as state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for digital production.
Dr. Dre said in a statement when announcing the center that he hoped it would be “a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.” Construction is expected to start in 2020.
Over the years Madonna has supported three main organizations that are helping to improve conditions in her hometown community of Detroit. She provided the funds for a new facility to be built for the Downtown Boxing Gym, which provides children aged 8 to 18 with academic support as well as an athletic outlet.
She also supports the Empowerment Plan, which employs homeless women to sew coats and sleeping bags for others homeless in Detroit. The third organization Madonna supports is the Detroit Achievement Academy which supplies new equipment and art and music supplies to Michigan’s poorest communities.
Singer Tony Bennet and his wife Susan are the founders of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, NY, which is a performing arts high school that is aimed at helping all students reach their full academic and artistic potential.
The high school today has one of the highest graduation rates of any public school in the New York City education system, and an extremely high enrolment rate for post-secondary education.
Chance The Rapper
Chance the Rapper has done an impressive amount of work year after year for his hometown of Chicago. In 2017 he donated over $1 million dollars to the Chicago Public School Foundation, and then pledged that for every $100,000 businesses and foundations donated, he’d add an additional $10K which ended up raising more than $2.2 million in that first month.
Chance also founded the SocialWorks Chicago program in 2016 which empowers youth through art, education, and civic engagement. In 2018 he pledged $1 million towards mental health initiatives in the city as well.
Barack And Michelle Obama
The charity work didn’t stop for the Obamas now that they’re out of the White House. In 2017, the former POTUS and FLOTUS donated $2 million to summer job programs in their hometown of Chicago.
The former President’s foundation, the Obama Foundation. is also responsible for overseeing the construction and development of the Barack Obama Presidential Center, which will be located in Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago. The Center will consist of multiple buildings including an athletic center, a library, as well as a museum.
Jennifer Lawrence, who hails from Louisville, Kentucky, has given back in a really simple way consistently for the past 6 Christmases.
For the last six years, including Dec. 2018, Lawrence has visited the Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville on Christmas Eve to visit patients in the oncology unit as well as the intensive care unit. Lawrence takes pictures and visits with staff and patients during her visits, which is a simple but major way that Lawrence is able to influence her home community.
Writer, producer, actor, and director Tyler Perry has lived in Atlanta for at least a decade, and as a Christmas gift to his community in 2018 Perry took it upon himself to pay off debts worth nearly half a million dollars.
Leading up to Christmas every year Walmart has a layaway program for shoppers to pay off their purchases over an extended period of time. Perry went to two local Atlanta Walmart stores and paid off $434,000 worth of layaway debts as a gift to those in his community.
Gayle Benson is an American billionaire who is the sole owner of both the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, and is a born and raised New Orleans native herself. For Christmas in 2018, she followed Tyler Perry’s lead and paid off 408 layaway orders at a local Walmart in New Orleans.
The layaways she paid off totaled nearly $100K and initially, the gesture was made anonymously. However, the Saints later confirmed in a statement that it had been Benson.
Country music hitmaker Carrie Underwood hails from Checotah, Oklahoma, and though she now lives in Nashville with her hockey-playing husband, she didn’t want to neglect her roots.
Underwood started the Checotah Animal, Town, School (C.A.T.S.) Foundation which — according to the foundation website — aims to improve Checotah by assisting with causes, fulfilling needs, and providing services to the community and surrounding area. Underwood has said she “feel[s] blessed to be able to create something as a way of giving back; to say thank you” to a hometown that’s always supported her.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson spends every Tuesday that he’s available at the Seattle Children’s hospital volunteering. Every single Tuesday. Prior to moving to Seattle, Wilson volunteered at the children’s hospital in Madison, Wisconsin during his college years, as well as while he was at NC State.
Wilson has said in interviews that his mom was an ER nurse and his dad was a diabetic who passed away from diabetes, so hospitals seemed like the logical choice to spend his time. He wants to make a difference in every city he goes to, and he certainly seems to be doing so.
Though she hails from New York, Barbra Streisand has lived in Los Angeles and the surrounding area for decades, and she’s given significant amounts of money to LA charities through her private charity foundation.
One of the most notable donations she made was to the cardiovascular program at Cedars Sinai Non-Profit Hospital in LA. Streisand donated $20 million to the center, $10 million of which was donated directly from her. It has since been renamed the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center.
Actress Kerry Washington devotes much of her time to charity work, including her involvement with the All State Purple Purse foundation, but a charity that’s near and dear to her heart is the Boys & Girls Club of America.
Washington is a Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club alumni which is a club located in the Bronx that also has alumni such as Jennifer Lopez, and she credits her love of dance to the Kips Bay club. Washington is an avid supporter for the Boys and Girls Club and was part of the “Great Futures Start Here” campaign.
American actress Rosario Dawson was born to a mother of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent and is an avid spokeswoman for the Latinx community. In 2004, Dawson co-founded the organization Voto Latino which is a non-profit aimed at encouraging young people of Hispanic and Latinx descent in the USA to become more involved in politics.
Leading up to 2016, Voto Latino was responsible for registering over 100,000 Latinx and Hispanic voters and the organization is currently working towards a goal of registering 1 million voters by 2020.
Taylor Swift hails from Pennsylvania but has called Nashville home since she moved there at the age of 14. Swift is known for her charity work and donations to fans and organizations around the country, but also always makes sure to focus on charities local to her.
Most recently, in April 2019 Swift donated $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project, which is a pro-LGBTQ advocacy group. Along with her donation, Swift wrote a note to the director of the charity commending them for all their work.
The first thing people think of when they think of Eminem isn’t usually his charity work, but he’s working to make a difference in his home city of Detroit.
Eminem founded the Marshall Mathers Foundation and is the primary source of funding for the charity. The organization is dedicated to providing assistance and resources to at-risk or disadvantaged youth primarily in Detroit, but also in the surrounding areas of Michigan. The foundation has donated to shelters, food banks, and other charities as well.
Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo is known for many things, one of which is his charitable side. He is an ambassador for three major charities (Unicef, Save the Children, and World Vision), and he has auctioned off major trophies like his 2013 Ballon d’Or which raised £530,000 for Make-A-Wish.
Something you may not know though is that he regularly donates blood, and that’s also the reason why he has no tattoos. You have to wait four months after getting new tattoos before you can donate blood, but Ronaldo donates as frequently as he can which is why he’s never gotten inked.
WWE wrestler John Cena is reportedly the most requested celebrity from children for Make-A-Wish-Foundation wishes, and he holds the record for most wishes fulfilled of any celebrity. Cena has fulfilled over 600 wishes with the foundation — no other celebrity has ever surpassed 300 wishes.
Cena fulfilled his first wish with the foundation in 2004 before he was well-known, and from then on participates whenever he can. Cena said in an interview that part of the reason he doesn’t want to quit WWE is that it gives him the opportunity to travel around the world and fulfill wishes.