Most people know about charitable causes sponsored and championed by big-name celebrities including Paul Newman, Angelina Jolie, Rosie O'Donnell, and Oprah Winfrey. But some celebrities and their work isn't quite as outspoken or public about their contributions to the welfare of children.
Many celebrities have established foundations that support educational and cultural initiatives for children. Bill Cosby and his wife Camille founded the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation to honor the memory of their son, Ennis, who was murdered in cold blood in 1997. The foundation supports programs for learning-disabled children by equipping teachers, parents, and students with information and tools for addressing their needs to ensure their success. David Letterman started a foundation dedicated to children's services and education. When it was begun in 1993, the foundation was called the DL Foundation; the name was later changed to the American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming.
Tyra Banks received so many letters from young girls seeking advice that she established a summer camp called T-Zone, where programs have been designed specifically to help build the self-esteem for young women who attend. Andrew Shue and his partner Michael Sanchez founded an online community site called Do Something, a website that provides encouragement and ideas to help young people who want to change the world. Sharon Stone created a foundation called Planet Hope, which is involved in the sponsorship of many diverse activities designed for children of all ages from various cultures.
Some celebrities have chosen to focus their efforts on health issues that impact children's lives. Mel Gibson has donated millions of dollars to Los Angeles hospitals that provide medical care to needy children coming from foreign countries. Over the past decade his family has donated more than $17 million to the non-profit organization Healing the Children, which serves young people who are faced with serious, yet correctable, medical issues. Audrey Hepburn worked for years to appeal on behalf of children around the world who were suffering from ill treatment. After her death in 1993, the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund was established to continue the work she began. Tom Hanks has contributed time and support to the James Fund for Neuroblastoma Research at Sick Kids. He is also the American ambassador for the Freeplay Foundation, an organization that provides mechanical wind-up radios to the poorest populations of children living on their own around the world.
There are hundreds of celebrities - actors, authors, politicians, musicians - who donate their time and money on a regular basis each year to making life better for children. Although some may have ulterior motives for their philanthropy, such as self-promotion, increased goodwill from the public, or even tax breaks, the reasons for their charity are not nearly as important as the benefits their efforts bring to needy children around the world.