HER PASSION: THE ART OF ELYSIUM "At Art of Elysium we work with kids of all ages. From cancer to pneumonia, their conditions vary. You don't know if they are ever going to get to leave the hospital. Art of Elysium takes actors and artists and pairs them with the children. My first visit was two years ago, and the program keeps growing. We go into various hospitals to read books, play with toys, do different art projects, sometimes just sit with the children and hold their hands. One kid said, 'I kind of want to talk about Heroes,' and so I hung out with him and chatted. It's not changing the world, but it is bringing children a moment of peace."
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Donate art supplies, costumes, musical instruments or children's books. A $30 donation will fund a creative arts workshop for one child. To learn more, visit theartofelysium.org.
HIS PASSION: UNICEF "As an ambassador for Unicef, I'm a voice for children without basic necessities we take for granted-safe drinking water, electricity, a roof over our heads. It's heart-wrenching. I've traveled to Nepal, and it's incredible to see what a huge impact the fund has on communities there. I met a 6-year-old named Rita who used to spend half of her day collecting water for her family. The water is not clean, so in these environments an intestinal problem can be a killer for kids. A simple tap, which costs about $20, can provide water to the whole community-for life! Now instead of collecting water all day, Rita can go to school and have the possibility of a better life."
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Donate online at unicef.org, or purchase Unicef items, such as holiday cards, stationery and toys.
HER PASSION: THE TZONE FOUNDATION "When I was young, I went through a very insecure time in my life. No matter how much self-esteem I have now, that girl still lives inside of me. Because of my struggle, I always felt that I had a calling to work with teens. There are so many pressures that come with being a girl, and I want to give young women the strength to succeed in our society in which there are so many difficult images to live up to. In 1999 I started TZone and took a group of girls for a weeklong camping trip in the mountains outside of L.A. In 2004 TZone became a national public foundation. We look for community-based organizations that encourage girls to be leaders, not followers. It gives me pleasure to help other people's dreams come true."
HIS PASSION: COLLEGE SUMMIT "A friend in the admissions office at Yale created this program where high school counselors identify students who have potential but risk falling through the cracks. For many of those who come from broken homes or are being seduced by gangs, a college education would be hopeless if not for this program. College Summit teaches them how to write their admissions essays during an intensive camp. I've been a writing coach there for two years. On the final night of camp, the kids often stay up all night reading each other's essays. And that is what you see: It becomes viral, and they start to take ownership and pride. Very few people in the past have pointed to them and said, 'Wow, you are an exceptional person.'"
WHAT YOU CAN DO: A donation of $50 sponsors a student for one month, and College Summit matches all donations through December 31. To learn more, visit collegesummit.org.
HER PASSION: GENERATION RESCUE "When my son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism in 2005, I found Generation Rescue, where parents teach other parents about effective biomedical treatments-diet, vitamins, detox, cleansing. Evan is now 6, and I consider him recovered. When he improved, I started writing (Louder Than Words and Mother Warriors) to show the world how I did it, my way of paying it forward. Every day the organization is out there raising awareness, teaching parents, and building an online resource for pediatricians who are looking for alternative treatments for autism. Sometimes I'm on the phone all day, coaching a new mom or figuring out a campaign. It is just what I'm supposed to do."
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Become a Rescue Angel and volunteer to help parents of autistic children, or make a donation at generationrescue.org.