The main knock on celebrity charity is that it's essentially a brand-building tool -- good for image and not much else. The tax savings don't hurt, either. But not all charitable connections are about image-burnishing and tax savings. (God, we sure hope not.) The number-crunchers at Forbes love making lists of celebrity charities with history of shady activities, so check those reports from time to time before pledging your hard-earned dollars.
With that out the way, let's see who's out doing good in the hood these days. Here's a small sampling of some celebrity charities worth cheering for this holiday.
6. Alicia Keys Charity: Frum Tha Ground Up, Keep a Child Alive, etc
Keys is a spokesperson for Frum Tha Ground Up, a charity that inspires American youth to achieve success on all levels. Keys is also an ambassador for Keep A Child Alive, which funds AIDs care in Africa and India. Her most recent event raised $3 million. The November 3rd gala doubled as a tribute to George Harrison, marking the 40th anniversary (albeit belated) of the late Beatle's Concert for Bangladesh with a star-studded concert of its own. That is: A concert celebrating a concert by a concert icon. It was a massive vortex of concertdom.
5. Fabolous Charity: A Fabolous Way, 3 Kings Coat Drive
Charity, they say, starts at home. Brooklyn rapper Fabolous is starting there, passing out coats to the cold and needy in the New York/New Jersey area. The newly bearded MC joined forces with buddies Ahmad Bradshaw (NY Giants) and Robinson Cano (NY Yankees) for the first annual 3 Kings Coat Drive this year. If you're reading this from the Big Apple, you can still drop off those used coats, hats, and scarves at Dr. Jay's from now till December 1.
4. Stevie Wonder Charity: The Wonder Foundation
After changing lives through music, the inimitable Stevie Wonder is also devoted to making an impact in the community through the Wonder Foundation. He's been quietly running this little monster since 1999. The Wonder Foundation played a pivotal role in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when Wonder wrote "Shelter in the Rain" and donated proceeds to hurricane relief. Also, Wonder's We Are You Foundation routinely makes generous contributions to the Junior Blind of America.
3. 50 Cent Charity: Street King, G-Unity Foundation
50 is on a mission to feed hungry kids, one Facebook like at a time. His main goal is to eventually feed a billion kids over the next five years. And in honor of this year's World Food Day, Two Quarters launched a multifaceted campaign for the lofty initiative. The move is tied to both the World Food Program and 50's new energy drink, Street King. Every Facebook like he gets on the Street King page provides one meal to a hungry kid. Look, even if you don't like the man's music, you have to admire his subtle cross-marketing genius. Ha! Just kidding. The reality, though, is that those hungry kids don't care where the meal comes from as long as it comes. Way to go, Fif.
2. Trae tha Truth Charity: Angel By Nature
Trae recently announced that he's launching an emergency children's shelter for Houston kids. The facility is an extension of his Angel By Nature Foundation with day-to-day operations handled by Robert Batson. Ultimately, Trae hopes to house 20-30 homeless children until they can find the love and attention of a permanent residence.
But that's jumping to the end of a story.
Trae has been making news as much for his charity as he has for his music since, like, forever. You might have heard of a little event dubbed Trae Day. It takes place every July 22 and provides immunization shots and school goodies to Houston kids. Trae is, no doubt, tha Truth. If you'd like to help, follow this link to make donations to Trae's ABN charity:
1. Bono Charity: You don't have enough time to sift through a rundown of Bono's non-profit affiliations.
The story goes that Bono saw The Secret Policeman Ball in 1979 and immediately realized what he wanted to do with the rest of his life -- become a serial do-gooder. Seven years later, he fired up his first charity project -- an education program in Ethiopia -- and hasn't slowed down since. If there was a Grammy slot for charitable celebs, the U2 frontman would win it every year. And deservedly so. His body of work speaks for itself: The Festival Against Racism in 1993, the One Campaign, Artists Against Apartheid, and on and on. He's got a knighthood and a slew of Nobel Peace Prize nominations for his efforts.