Did you know that 60% of all Americans have donated to charity at some point?
You’ve probably given to good causes in the past yourself, perhaps by donating to urgent care clinics who offer charity care to uninsured patients. But for many people, a problem that always comes up is that they’re limited in what they can give.
If you’re looking to sell broken jewelry just to get by, you probably don’t feel like you have a lot to give to those in need, even if you have a big heart.
That’s where celeb charity efforts come in. Over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, countless people have lots jobs or experienced a cut in income. Thankfully, some of America’s wealthiest individuals have been making a difference behind the scenes, doing celeb charity work to fuel recovery from the pandemic.
Read on to learn what famous people have been doing celeb charity efforts during the pandemic.
For most people, their first priority throughout 2020 was ensuring their United Healthcare insurance coverage was up to date. But for country sensation Dolly Parton, priorities seemed to be focused entirely on the world around her.
Dolly Parton has always had a heart for the needs of people around her, but in 2020 she was more active than ever. In March, she started a weekly story time series which she called “Goodnight with Dolly,” where she read children’s books for thousands of children and adults watching through the internet.
Besides appearing on live streams to read stories, Parton shared many encouraging video messages throughout the year on social media. Her contributions weren’t all talk, either: she also donated a million dollars of her own money to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and used her influence to help raise money to fight breast cancer and LGBTQ homelessness.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Parton literally saved the life of a nine-year-old actress on the set of her Netflix movie, Dolly Payton’s Christmas on the Square. The girl, Talia Hill, was in the road in front of an oncoming car, when Parton suddenly lifted her up and moved her out of the way.
As far as celeb charity efforts go, Dolly Parton definitely comes out near the top. But she was far from the only celebrity that lent a hand in 2020: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was another celebrity who went out of the way to encourage others.
Johnson and his entire immediate family contracted COVID-19, but that didn’t stop him from sending a special thank you to certain first responders.
To show his appreciation for front-line workers, Johnson sent a special gift to the crew of the Ridgefield Fire Department in New Jersey. He outfitted each of the rescue workers with brand-new pairs of Project Rock performance shoes, which he had developed in collaboration with Under Armour.
From staying afloat financially to getting services like emergency plumbing repair, it’s fair to say that 2020 complicated just about everything.
Among the confusion, Ryan Reynolds helped bring some clarity to the world by sharing encouragement and advice on Twitter: “Take care of your bodies and hearts. Leave room for joy. Call someone who’s isolated and might need connection.”
He also took to Instagram to encourage people to stay in touch with one another safely while they practiced social distancing.
Like Dolly Parton, sharing messages on social media was just the beginning of Reynolds’s celeb charity giving. With his wife, Blake Lively, the couple donated a total of one million dollars to Feeding America and Food Banks Canada. He also urged his fans to donate to these charities as well, saying that the organizations “need our help.”
Many other celebrities chipped in to support food banks as well, including late night show host Jimmy Fallon who donated to Feeding America. Singer Vanessa Hudgens shared a picture of the receipt from her donation to Feeding America on Instagram, encouraging her fans to resist the urge to freak out and help one another instead.
Stephen and Ayesha Curry
NBA star Stephen Curry and his wife Ayesha decided to help children affected by their schools temporarily shutting down. They chose to do this by setting a goal of providing over a million meals to kids.
When schools shut down, it eliminated the need for things like janitorial services and school lunches. However, many children relied on their schools for two meals every day, which their families would now have to find a way to pay for. Since 2020 was a time of economic uncertainty for everyone, this was just one more stressor on families that were already feeling strained.
Through their own foundation, Eat.Learn.Play., Stephen and Ayesha worked to make sure every child they could reach had the food they needed.
Actress Kristen Bell was another celebrity who contributed to help feed children with not enough food during the pandemic. She donated to No Kid Hungry, and even her young daughters wanted to pitch in, giving money they had saved in their own piggy banks.
Model Alessandra Ambrosio and her supermodel friends took an unusual and highly creative approach towards celeb charity efforts. With Los Angeles-based artist Judy Konkoly, the group collaborated to make six beautiful portraits of the models. These were sold on LiveAuctioneers, a website for buying and selling your fine art, and the money was donated to efforts combating COVID-19.
The other models who participated in the project were Heidi Klum, Lily Aldridge, Miranda Kerr, Barbara Palvin, and Irina Shayk.
Bethenny Frankel and BStrong
Real Housewives star Bethenny Frankel claimed that her disaster relief foundation, BStrong, would be donating one million face masks when the pandemic started.
According to Frankel, she learns about disasters as they take place around the world through her fans on social media, whom she says keep her informed. She claimed to receive more than a thousand messages per day about a lack of medical supplies around the United States, and that several people spoke about how there weren’t enough masks available in critical areas.
To address this, Frankel teamed up with medical suppliers to provide masks to these critical areas.
Another celebrity, singer Vanessa Hudgens whom we mentioned earlier, donated to BStrong to further help supply masks to hospitals.
There were many more celeb charity efforts aimed at supplying masks to those at risk of disease. Tennis star Serena Williams announced early on that she would be donating 4.25 million masks to underserved schools.
She also promised to provide educational materials about the importance of wearing masks to all 115,000 schools in the United States. She would reach around 54 million students in all through her contribution.
Matthew and Camila McConaughey
Actor Matthew McConaughey was another celebrity who focused on providing face masks to those who need them. But instead of simply donating money, he and his wife Camila loaded up their pickup truck and transported entire boxes of masks to rural hospitals around Texas.
It’s often said that nothing comes for free in life, whether it be gold watches or waste management services. But country singer Brad Paisley opened up a grocery store in Nashville that literally gives food away for free to those in need.
As if simply making free food available wasn’t already enough, Paisley’s store also makes deliveries to the elderly and those most at risk of contracting the virus.
Actress Sofia Vergara and her foundation teamed up with the microfinance nonprofit Kiva.org, with plans to raise $50 million through crowdfunding. The money would be used to support over a million marginalized organizations and individuals impacted by COVID-19.
The money would go to help small business owners, artists, and others around the United States. According to Vergara, microfinance fuels local economies by creating jobs and inspiring new business endeavors, as well as helping make people’s lives immediately better.
Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande
For many fans, a collaboration between Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande is a treat in itself, but during 2020 the duo took things to the next level.
When their new duet, “Stuck with U” was announced, the 26-year-old pop stars said that all net proceeds made from sales and streams would go to benefit children of first responders whose lives had been impacted by the pandemic. They partnered with the First Responders Children’s Foundation to make this possible.
This wasn’t the only way Arianna Grande made a difference through celeb charity. In an Instagram story, she said that her heart ached for the small businesses, families, and individuals impacted by the virus, and that she was supporting several organizations all helping to combat the effects of the pandemic.
The organizations she named included Opportunity Fund, GiveDirectly, Feeding America, Croce Rossa Italiana, and the WHO’s COVID-19 solidarity response fund. Grande encouraged her followers to support these groups as well if they were able.
Another beloved singer, Colombian artist Shakira donated thousands of ventilators and N95 masks to hospitals and health care workers in her hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia. She received a heartfelt thank you message on Twitter from the city’s major after her donation.
Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer donated Miku breathing monitors to medical facilities in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, as well as New York, the epicenter of the pandemic.
The actress claimed to have felt helpless in knowing how to help those in need during the pandemic, and that Miku had agreed to team up and provide the contactless, state-of-the-art breathing monitors to hospitals and nursing homes.
Famous NBA legend Michael Jordon had been working on a docuseries called The Last Dance. But when the pandemic hit, Jordan promised that he would be donating all proceeds from the series to charities.
The 10-episode ESPN series premiered in April of last year, and Forbes predicted that it would earn between $3 and $4 million for Jordan alone.
Among the COVID-related causes Jordan would be contributing to, he donated to Friends of the Children, a nonprofit that provides vulnerable young children with professional mentors to stay with them from kindergarten all the way through graduation.
Interestingly, the first two parts of Jordan’s series brought in more than six million viewers, which quickly made it the most-watched docuseries on the platform according to CNN.
Like every other celebrity on this list, the famous Iron Man actress has been doing her part to help COVID-19 relief efforts.
In April, Paltrow shared on Instagram that she would be auctioning off a sentimental dress she wore to the Academy Awards all the way back in 2000. The money earned from the auction would be contributed directly to All-In, an organization with the goal of earning $100 million for nonprofits supporting vulnerable communities. These nonprofits included Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, Feeding America, and America’s Food Fund, to name a few.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and TikTok
Arnold Schwarzenegger founded a nonprofit organization called After-School All-Stars, a program that offers after-school activities for children. In 2020, however, the actor decided to provide food to families in need during the pandemic.
In a surprising turn of events, TikTok approached Schwarzenegger and offered to donate a large amount of money to the project. As part of the effort, groceries and gift cards for food would be delivered to families all over the United States.
Schwarzenegger also donated one million dollars to a GoFundMe campaign called Frontline Responders Fund.
2020 was a year when things like finding affordable apartments for students and families alike became an even bigger challenge than before. But one thing that didn’t change was the generous, giving spirit of people in America, from celeb charity giving to the contributions of normal citizens.
It’s a precious reminder that, even when times are at their worst, and everyone from financial planners to architects is struggling to make ends meet, people are still there for one another.
Generous people from around the world have made life amid the pandemic a little easier for those most affected. These can include everyone from families needing legal representation with a car accident lawyer to health care workers on the front lines. Hopefully reading these stories of celeb charity giving has inspired a sense of hopefulness for you, as they have for many others.