InStyle’s Shining Stars: Behind the Scenes with Jennifer Garner and Save the Children

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December 2014 Issue

Concern for the well-being of others doesn't start and end with the holidays, of course. For the “Shining Stars” story in the December issue of InStyle, we caught up with six famous faces who are shedding light on the spirit of giving throughout the year.

Jennifer Garner may be an award-winning actress, mother-of-three, and wife to Ben Affleck, but the multi-tasker stills finds it in herself to offer time and energy to a cause that hits close to home: Save the Children, the leading independent charity for youngsters in need that advocates children's rights in more than 120 countries (including the United States) by providing medical aid, food, water, and educational tools.

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"Nearly one in four children in rural America is growing up in poverty," Garner tells Katherine Schwarzenegger in InStyle’s December issue. "My own mother was raised in Oklahoma with 11 kids squeezed into one tiny space. She is the only member of her family who went to college, and the reason she was able to accomplish so much is because her brain was prepared for school at an early age. It's crucial to intervene while children are young. We've already lost them if they aren't starting school until the age of 5 or 6."

"In an ideal world, we could just take the billions of dollars we spend on the juvenile court system and invest it in the first five years of life. Every time I visit a family in their home with Save the Children, we help foster the connection between mothers and their kids. When we show mothers hot to stimulate their child's brain, it's like watching a lightbulb go on," Garner says. "It thrills me, because I know a child's life is going to be better and that mother is going to enjoy parenthood so much more."

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To donate, visit and follow on Twitter @SaveTheChildren. Plus, watch Jennifer Garner's video above to learn more about how she got involved in the cause, and pick up the December issue of InStyle for the full Shining Stars feature, on newsstands and available for digital download Nov. 14.

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[MUSIC] Tell me why you decided to become involved with Save the Children. I wanted specifically to find an organization that was. Helping kids in rural America. Kids in rural America just get lost. They get lost in the shuffle. And, they're so spread out, so isolated. And, there's nobody fighting for them. But, there is. [LAUGH] And, it's the U.S. programs of Save the Children. Your mom was a school teacher. Yeah. Do you think that, that impacted the way you wanted to take action, and be involved? Involved in Save the Children? My mom had a huge impact on where I wanted to put my focus, but it wasn't that she was a school teacher as much as it was that she grew in Oklahoma in real, real poverty. Mm-hm. With 11 kids in a one room little, tiny, tiny house. She is the only one of her family who went on and went to college. You have to get to a kid early. I mean, kids in America or kids growing up in poverty. By the time they're four, they're a year and a half behind. And so when you start school at five and a half or six here in the United States, you've already lost them. You're starting in remediation before you can even get your feet under you. If we could just take the billions of dollars we spend on catching kids up and just spend it on the first five years of their lives. And when their mom is pregnant with them, the problems would go away. It's. A social justice problem in the United States is actually a civil rights problem. And everyone is in agreement about it anyone I talk to in DC and yet we can't seem to just have the political will to push it over the line. [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, as evidence to [INAUDIBLE] incidents or A memory from a home visit that has really touched you? There have been a lot. But one that wasn't that long ago was in Central Valley, California, and this little boy. He was 11-months-old, and he had a two-week-old little baby brother. He didn't crawl or walk. Nobody spoke to each other. There weren't any books. There was nothing on the wall. And the coordinator was saying you know, does, does he talk at all? Is he babbling? And she was like no, no. Well she pulled out a ball, and he had never seen a ball. He said to the mom, just start rolling it back and forth with him. And she did, and he got so excited, he started babbling. And the coordinator said that's it, that's the beginning of speech. He's trying to talk to you, he's communicating with you. Do it back to him. And by the time we left, they were giggling together. They were hugging each other, and it was just, she just needed that little bit of love, and that nudge. But that's what it looks like. If you've never seen it, and nobody did it for you, and you're isolated in the middle of nowhere, and you're not around other moms, you don't know what it's supposed to look like. That's what this coordinator from Save The Children did for her. She gave her all this love and said, you've got it. People don't know the poverty that is in the United States. One in four kids in rural America are growing up in poverty. The only way out is to hit them hard, young. And it's brick by brick work. But this is an organization that really does it and puts their money right into the program. So, I'm a big believer. [MUSIC]

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