Hurricane Harvey has been a tragic event, the sort of disaster people pray never comes to their doorstep.
However, despite its best attempts to destroy countless communities and neighborhoods, Harvey has provided a unique opportunity for America to show against all odds how united it actually is — despite the constant cultural and political divisiveness and chaos pushed by and in the media.
Vivid images and videos of people helping one another have been welcome sights on social media — and many caring individuals have opened their wallets and hearts to help in the rescue and recovery efforts.
Some celebrities are giving in a major way. In a world in which many stars are becoming increasingly political, aggressive and divisive, it’s been a pleasure to see a select few put politics aside and show the positives that can be accomplished.
Filmmaker Tyler Perry, well known for the “Madea” movies, announced in a video to his Facebook followers that he was giving $1 million to various groups in Texas, including to pastors Rudy Rasmus and Joel Osteen.
He urged fans to give money, too, but advised them to make sure they know where their money’s going. “Make sure you are giving to people [who] are getting the monies directly to the people [who] need it,” he said.
Celebrity chef Rachel Ray also donated $1 million to hurricane relief efforts. She specifically gave to animal welfare organizations. “Thanks to your support of our Nutrish brands, we are able to donate $1 million today, through The Rachael Ray Foundation, to help support various animal welfare organizations who are actively working in Texas and Louisiana to care for animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey,” she wrote on Facebook. She added that “$100,000 [in] donations have been made to the SPCA of Texas and Austin Pets Alive!, who are already providing disaster relief to animals in need.”
Country singer George Strait announced on Twitter he was putting together a project to help benefit Harvey victims. “We are working on putting together relief efforts with the whole country music community,” he wrote.
Fellow country stars have helped in relief efforts as well. Granger Smith and his wife, Amber, announced they were donating 100 percent of profits from their online store to Harvey relief — and the Josh Abbott Band, a Texas country group, announced a special new shirt they were selling, from which all proceeds are going to Harvey relief work.
Miranda Lambert’s MuttNation Foundation has been aiding in dog rescue in Houston. “Muttnation Foundation rescued 72 dogs today who are being transported to dry safe shelters across the country,” the group wrote on Instagram this week.
Add to all of the hefty amounts donated by people like Sandra Bullock, Kevin Hart, Leonardo DiCaprio and others, and it’s pretty staggering how much some celebrities have helped others in the wake of an awful disaster.
Two artists have decided to take things a step further — and are using their public platforms for a larger purpose. Musicians Joy Villa and Kaya Jones are in Houston this weekend in partnership with Mercury One, a charity organization for which they’ve already helped raise well over $1 million.
“Sunday through Wednesday, we will be working on the ground helping people,” Villa told LifeZette, adding that the two will do whatever is needed –– which may include everything from passing out food and blankets to helping transport people.
Villa and Jones wanted to help keep attention on the devastation caused by Harvey and on the recovery efforts — by using their social media accounts to keep people aware.
“The news story is going to die as it always does and we don’t want that to happen [here],” Villa said. “This is a domestic devastation and we need to come out strong for Texas.”
Jones has a personal connection to the destruction: Texas is her father’s home state. “I think this is the right thing to do, and we saw what happened with [Hurricane] Katrina. Too many people waited too long to help, and the devastation was so bad,” she told LifeZette about her motivation to be on the ground helping others.
“This is a domestic devastation and we need to come out strong for Texas.”
She added, “It’s imperative we don’t wait and don’t hesitate on this.” She believes that connecting with fans from the ground will allow Joy Villa and herself to raise a lot more money in the relief efforts.
“Even those who have already donated — when they see us take this extra step, they might donate again,” she said.
Jones hopes others will follow the “call to action.” She said she’d also like to see fewer political attacks from celebrities — and more on-the-ground action from them in the aftermath of Harvey. Said Jones, “We really need to start uniting the country and stop waiting for government to do so.”
You can donate to Mercury One and help Villa and Jones in their efforts here.
(photo credit, homepage image: Craig Oneal, Flickr)