Entertainment

Generous and Quiet Celebrity Acts

You probably have no idea how much John Cena does off-camera

“I am a liberal,” Garrison Keillor once wrote, “and liberalism is the politics of kindness.”

As if following Keillor’s lead, The New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman later wrote that conservatives “take positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.”

In Hollywood, it can also be tough to get headline props where headline props are deserved.

If you consider the media’s penchant for highlighting left-of-center celebrities’ generosity, you might indeed believe liberalism has cornered the market on kindness. You might also think conservatives are tightwads bent on humanity’s deprivation.

But is that fair and true? Of course not.

We’re thankful that Taylor Swift, an Obama supporter who wisely avoids talking politics, recently gave $1 million in charity to Louisiana flood victims. We’re also glad that fellow Obama fan Oprah Winfrey — of “You get a car! You get a car!” renown — gives generously to those in need. She topped Forbes’ most generous celebrity list in 2008, donating almost 20 percent of the $275 million she earned in 2007. She continues to give lavishly to many domestic and international causes.

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But there are other, less discussed, more conservative celebrities who we wish would get top billing, too. In Hollywood, it can also be tough to get headline props where headline props are deserved.

Take WWE wrestler John Cena, for example. It’s reasonable to say he’s conservative since he’s endorsed Republican candidates and pushed for the deportation of Obama’s aunt, an alleged illegal immigrant.

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Though people either love his wrestling persona or hate it, there’s no arguing he’s generous with his time and resources. He’s supported servicemen through at least 10 “Tribute for the Troops” performances in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s also worked with the Answer the Call foundation for NYPD and NYFD families affected by 9/11.

In addition to this, Cena has fulfilled a record 500 Make-A-Wish wishes and donated more than 13.5 million of his own frequent-flyer miles to the organization between 2011 and 2013 alone. He’s the most popular celebrity requested through Make-A-Wish, and his “Never give up” slogan is inspiration to children who might feel they have every reason to otherwise.

He told the New York Post, “When I hear that this child wants to hang out with [me] for the day, I think that’s the most flattering thing that I could ever be a part of.”

Then there’s Republican Kellie Pickler, who donates finances, PR, and visits to kids at St. Jude Childrens’ Research Hospital. She also works with Paralyzed Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, among many other charities.

But the USO is perhaps where her philanthropic heart is most vested. In 2015, after eight USO tours to support servicemen overseas, she was named the first-ever recipient of the Operation Troop Aid Chris Kyle Patriot Award, presented to her by Kyle’s parents.

Pickler told Rolling Stone that the troops have changed her life forever, saying, “Of course we love that moment of performing and being onstage and looking out and seeing a sea of soldiers or Marines or airmen … but I think the best moments are before the show when we go to the chow house and have a meal and just talk with the soldiers and hear about where they came from.”

Pickler added, “I think [this award] will be by far the most incredible thing I’ve been able to be a part of in my career, absolutely. We have worked with the USO for years and it’s something that means so much to me.” Her generous spirit also means a lot to troops.

Also big on humanitarianism is conservative actor, producer, and director Gary Sinise.

Sinise began the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011, though he had already been supporting the armed forces for years. The organization provides meals, smart housing, encouragement, and entertainment for our nation’s first defenders.

Related: We Need More Gary Sinises

Using more than 89 percent of its monies for programs that aid soldiers and their families, with about 5 percent toward fundraising expenses and 5 percent toward administrative fees, the foundation displays an impressive illustration of its priorities.

Sinise delights in lifting the spirits of those who have sacrificed for our country — psychologically and physically. He’s been widely recognized for his efforts, too, though he never makes headlines the way Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga do.

Still, in 2008 he received the Presidential Citizens Medal — the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for excellence in service of the nation. In 2012, Sinise was given the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense and named an honorary chief petty officer by the United States Navy. In 2013 he was made an honorary Marine.

Sinise says of his foundation, “While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”

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