Amy Poehler's Inspiring Charity Work Deserves Your Attention

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Amy Poehler makes people laugh for a living. Parks and Recreation, although it has its touching, heartfelt moments, fuels a lot of running gags and Poehlerisms, and usually causes more guffaws than tears. Similarly, Amy's tag-team efforts with Tina Fey in the upcoming Golden Globes are sure to be as hilarious as last year, making even the sober celebrities in attendance feel a little laugh-tipsy. But I want to talk about the side of Amy Poehler that too few people focus on: her Leslie Knope-sized enthusiasm for children's charities.

When I saw the DoSomething.org list of the top 20 most charitable celebrities, I thought it was odd that Amy did not make a top spot: she may not have posed with many Make-A-Wish kids, but she has started a nonprofit and helps orphans all over the world. Amy made news earlier this year when she gave a heartfelt speech about the joys of volunteering and giving, but the media avoided awarding too much attention to her charity work after that YouTube video made the rounds. But Amy hasn't stopped working with the Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO) or Amy Poehler's Smart Girls. Instead, she has put her time and tweets where her mouth is, and has crusaded for children everywhere. 

Instead of being miffed that she was passed over for a host of Emmy's last season, Amy hosted a "Losers Party" with Jon Hamm that raised $20,000 for the WWO. Amy has also been a model of responsible giving with WWO: she personally knows the CEO of the organization, and asks about the best ways to help with the cause. And instead of writing a big check each year, Amy also hosts numerous events and fundraisers like her "losers party," making speeches and auctioning off Parks and Rec swag. She has also been on a service trip to Haiti, to directly aid the orphaned populations her money goes toward. This is responsible giving, the kind where you give not only dollars and cents but time and effort, and Amy has jumped into orphan relief with both feet.

As if helping children around the world were not enough, Amy has started the aforementioned Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, a website dedicated to content that helps girls (and boys) to "be themselves," and to show them all of the career (and life) options available. There are many series of YouTube videos available, including "Ask Amy," which are from Poehler herself, "Smart Girls at the Party," which interviews various "smart girls" who have exciting careers and goals, and "Operation Nice," which shows various under-appreciated women at work. As if this smorgasbord of programming for girls was not enough, the website also hosts exciting resources and real-world campaigns for girls to be themselves. In the nicest partnership news around, this month's cause benefits the WWO.

In her rousing speech at the Variety Power of Women Banquet, Amy said that she believes "Every child should believe they are the center of the universe. If your child believes that, you're doing a good job." Well, Amy, I think you've made many children think of themselves as tiny suns, and I want to thank you for that. Maybe the rest of us should start putting one tenth of the effort you do into causes we care about, and make the world a more interesting place.

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