Entertainment

Five Great Charities Founded by Celebrities

These stars — unlike so many others — are using their fame, fortune, and media spotlight for good works

One of the benefits of celebrity is the ability to take the attention of fans and media cameras, and point it instead in the direction of a good cause.

Many celebrities lucky enough to build a name for themselves in their profession have the opportunity to promote and sometimes even start charities that work hard to put a little good into the world.

Whether it’s a cause that aims to stop the negative actions of others, or one that tries to highlight some of the under-appreciated heroes of this world, there are some wonderful charities — founded by artists with public profiles — that do great things for the country and the world.

Related: Five Cool Businesses Owned and Operated by Celebrities

Here’s a look at some of the best celebrity-started charities.

1.) Kevin Smith, the Wayne Foundation. The Wayne Foundation’s mission statement reads this way: “The Wayne Foundation is committed to spreading awareness of CSEC (Commercial Sex Exploitation of Children) and DMST (Domestic Minor Sexual Trafficking) occurring within the United States.”

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The goal of the foundation is to fight and eventually end sex slavery within the U.S. The group provides counseling and shelter services to sex-slavery victims and has a location in Florida that is recognized by the Department of Children and Family Services.

The president of the foundation, Jamie Walton, is a survivor of child sex trafficking herself. Smith, a noted comic book fan and director of such superhero-centered television shows as “The Flash” and “Supergirl,” named the company after his favorite comic book character, Bruce Wayne — the secret identity of Batman.

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2.) Gary Sinise, the Gary Sinise Foundation. There’s perhaps no celebrity-founded charity with a better reputation than this one. The “CSI: NY” actor constantly puts himself out there to promote the foundation and its sustained efforts to help veterans.

The foundation provides support services for veterans, including the R.I.S.E. program, which helps build “smart homes” that make life easier and more adaptable for veterans who return home from their deployments with permanent injuries.

Through the foundation, Sinise often performs free concerts for servicemen and women with his band, The Lt. Dan Band, named after his Vietnam-veteran character from the film “Forrest Gump,” of course.

Related: Gary Sinise’s Incredible Commitment to Our Troops

“Having them [veterans] in my family, having several friends serve in Vietnam, after we started deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, having been involved with the DAV, the Disabled American Veterans, since playing one in ‘Forrest Gump’ back in the 90s — I just knew there was a role for me to play currently in supporting our active-duty service members and trying to make sure that they knew that we were grateful for what they were doing,” Sinise told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2013 about his extensive involvement with helping veterans.

He continued, “And if they go off to war, they’re going to come home and we’re going to show our appreciation to them.”

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3.) Denis Leary, the Leary Firefighters Foundation. Actor and comedian Denis Leary starred as a firefighter for seven seasons on the highly praised television show, “Rescue Me,” a dramedy that examined the plight of post-9/11 firefighters.

Beyond his role on “Rescue Me,” Leary has a much deeper connection to the profession. His cousin, Jerry Lucey, was a firefighter who died on the job in 1999. The actor created the Leary Firefighters Foundation a year later.

The foundation has raised millions for surviving families of first responders lost on 9/11. They also help in providing essential funding to firehouses and firefighters in need of resources.

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“Firefighters never go on strike, so they’re always at the bottom of the list for funding,” Leary told the Hollywood Reporter in 2014. “I’d love nothing more than to go out of business because firefighters had everything they needed.”

4.) Mark Wahlberg, the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. Mark Wahlberg may be one of the biggest stars on the planet right now, but he was once a troubled young man. Born in a Boston neighborhood, the youngest of nine children, he was even arrested in his younger days and convicted of assault.

Having turned his life around, Wahlberg has used his fame and experience to help kids and teens in similar situations to his own. The stated mission of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation is to “assist youth to ensure that no child is limited or prevented from attaining their lifetime goal or dream due to financial circumstances.”

Related: Wahlberg to Celebrity Whiners: Hush Up

The foundation helps provide funding through grants to “youth services and enrichment programs.” Wahlberg himself has credited the Boys and Girls Club multiple times with helping him stay out of trouble when he turned away from criminal mischief.

5.) Martin Scorsese, the Film Foundation. Martin Scorsese is considered by many to be one of the greatest directors to ever live. With classics like “Taxi Driver,” “Goodfellas,” and “Raging Bull” under his belt, Scorsese has used his stature and wealth to focus on what is nearest and dearest to his heart: film.

The Film Foundation specifically works to preserve film deemed important that is at risk of being lost to history. The group was founded in 1990, and its mission statement partly reads: “By working in partnership with archives and studios, the foundation has helped to restore over 750 films, which are made accessible to the public through programming at festivals, museums, and educational institutions around the world. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project has restored 28 films from 20 different countries representing the rich diversity of world cinema. The foundation’s free educational curriculum, ‘The Story of Movies,’ teaches young people — over 10 million to date — about film language and history.”

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