How Celebrities Are Giving Back During the Pandemic

These pop stars, athletes and actors are doing their part to contribute to Covid-19 relief efforts. 

Posted in , May 4, 2020

Oprah, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson

Celebrities are using their platforms for good by giving back to those most impacted by the ongoing pandemic and encouraging others to do the same. Whether they’re partnering with various organizations or reaching out to fans personally, these stars are demonstrating the importance of helping others in any way, big or small, during the outbreak.

Oprah Winfrey took to Instagram in early April to announce a contribution of $10 million to “help Americans in this pandemic in cities across the country.” The media mogul also announced she will be donating $1 million to America’s Food Fund, a GoFundMe campaign launched by chef José Andrés, Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Leonardo DiCaprio and Laurene Powell Jobs of Apple to feed the most vulnerable communities across America.

“While everyone’s priority right now is to stay safer at home, I know there are many of us looking for ways to help,” Winfrey said on the Instagram post. “I believe that America’s Food Fund will be a powerful way to make a difference for our neighbors in need.”

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are easing their tenants' financial worries by waiving rent payments for the month of April. “The Good Place” actress, 39, and the “Bless This Mess” actor, 45, who own several residential buildings in Los Angeles, notified their tenants of the good news via email with hopes of helping those who are currently facing financial hardships due to the pandemic.

The couple also donated to No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit organization that focuses on ending childhood hunger, to help feed children and families that are currently struggling due to school closings. Their donation of $150,007.96 includes contributions from their two young daughters, who donated their piggy bank savings of $7.96. In an Instagram post, the organization thanked the actress for helping them “send out even more grants to schools and community groups working to feed kids during the #COVID19 outbreak."

In addition to also donating to America’s Food Fund in response to the Covid-19 crisis, Lady Gaga raised $127 million through the global broadcasting event “One World: Together At Home” on April 18. The pop star partnered with Global Citizen and the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise funds to buy protective equipment for health workers by co-curating an at-home concert that was live-streamed in the U.S. and screened on BBC One in the U.K. The proceeds from the eight-hour broadcast also went towards drug and vaccine development, as well as local and regional charities.

Lady Gaga’s makeup brand, Haus Laboratories, also announced on Twitter that it would be donating to the L.A. Regional Food Bank and Food Bank for New York City “in order to get food to those affected by the closing of schools & other places that offer this critical resource.”

After more than a month since becoming two of the earliest celebrities to contract Covid-19, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they will be donating their blood, which now carries antibodies, to assist with vaccine research. Now that the actors have both recovered from the disease, they hope their blood and plasma donation will contribute to the development of a ‘Hank-ccine,’ as Hanks jokingly called it during an interview with NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! podcast.

Hanks also be-friended an 8-year-old boy named Corona DeVries, who sent the actor a get-well letter in which he also wrote that he was being bullied because of his name. Hanks responded with words of encouragement along with a vintage Corona typewriter, which he asked DeVries to use to write back to him, before signing off with the title of the “Toy Story” theme song: “You got a friend in me!”

Christian rap artist Lecrae partnered with Love Beyond Walls, a non-profit organization that works with those battling poverty and homelessness, to install hand-washing stations throughout downtown Atlanta, Georgia for those who lack the resources needed to take preventative measures against the virus. 

The multi-Grammy award winner, who has also partnered with Food for the Hungry in the past, assembled the portable sinks, which use five gallons of water, contain a full soap dispenser, can be refilled, drained and relocated, before planting them throughout the city in mid-March. 

“People care. People see you. You're valuable, you're no less valuable than anybody else who has four walls to live inside of,” Lecrae said to CBS affiliate. “We see you. We care about you and we're here to serve.”

Award-winning music artist Ciara and husband Russell Wilson announced they will be donating one million meals to a local food bank to help those in Seattle, Washington affected by the outbreak. In a video announcement posted to their individual social media accounts, the star couple told followers they will be partnering with Seattle's Food Lifeline, which according to the website, provides food to more than 300 food banks, shelters and meal programs across Western Washington.

The couple encouraged others to help in any way they can and to “keep the faith” throughout the ongoing pandemic. “Everything that we do together makes a difference," Ciara said. “Together, we will conquer this tough time we are going through."

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