Celebrities are known for their lavish spending and glamorous lifestyles at times, and it's easy to see why: They make more money in a year than the average person will ever see in a lifetime, and it takes plenty of money to keep up those kinds of appearances. Many of us will roll our eyes at the thought of a famous person dropping thousands on shoes or a purse, but to them, it can be the norm. So that's why it's always refreshing to see a celebrity do some really, really selfless good deeds without benefiting themselves in any particular way.
Sure, it goes with the territory that having lots of wealth should automatically equate to giving back to those in need, and many celebrities (thankfully!) do give back financially to causes that mean something to them. But these celebrities are the ones who are so over-the-top generous and kind, that your heart will swell and you may be wiping back a tear or two when thinking about how selfless they can be. These stars are a nice little reminder that humans, even rich and famous ones, can be so lovely. Seriously, try to read this list without getting all the feels. (Spoiler alert: you won't be able to.)
1. Johnny Depp
He's an A-list Hollywood actor who obviously has fame and money in spades, but that didn't stop Depp from giving a likely much-appreciated warm gesture to the crew on the forthcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. It was reported by British newspaper The Sun that on a particularly rainy day, he spent upwards of £40,000 (that's around $64,200) to buy a jacket for each crew member — there were 500 of them. Though this is one example of his kindness, Depp frequently gives back in different ways, notably visiting with patients at a children's hospital dressed as Jack Sparrow just last year. He's clearly got a big heart.
2. Jennifer Lawrence
Like Depp, Lawrence has always been known for doing good deeds (including frequent visits with patients at a children's hospital near her hometown in Louisville, Kentucky) but she recently took that kindness up several notches by donating $2 million to the Kosair Children's Hospital, which established the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. In a press release announcing the news, Lawrence said the children's "strength and courage is inspiring" and I'm sure the money will go a long way to help them out.
3. Christian Bale
In one of his most famous movie roles, Bale plays the Dark Knight, who has made it his life's mission to save the people of Gotham from the bad guys. Bale may not don a black bat suit in real life, but he's also made it his mission to bring happiness to others. After the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 people dead and more than 70 people wounded during a screening of his film The Dark Knight Rises, Bale visited the local hospital where many of the victims were in recovery, most likely brightening their day during a time where they needed a smile. As if that's not heartwarming enough, later that same year, Bale flew a 4-year-old boy suffering from leukemia and his family from their home in Ohio to Disneyland, where he and his family joined the boy's family for lunch in the park. How beautiful.
4. Taylor Swift
Swift is known for her well-documented good deeds, so it's honestly hard to pick just one — and this is a very good thing! If there were superlatives in the celebrity world, Swift would have to win the award for "Celebrity With A Heart Of Gold," because she constantly gives back in ways big and small. Most recently, she gave $250,000 to fellow singer Kesha in a show of support for the pop star during a legal battle with her record label and producer. She also frequently writes checks in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to causes she supports, from cancer research to music education in schools. Swift visits with sick fans in hospitals on the regular, and somehow finds ways to make her biggest fans feel extra special all the time. Her heart is so obviously in the right place, and it's a beautiful thing.
5. Meryl Streep
While she's pretty low-key as far as celebrities go, Streep takes plenty of opportunities to give back to those in need. According to The Huffington Post, Streep has "donated about $1 million to Vassar College and a generous amount to a number of other organizations including, Oxfam America, New York's Meals on Wheels, the Coalition for the Homeless, and the National Women's Museum," among others. All worthy causes and organizations, indeed!
6 & 7. Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie
Brangelina is almost as lauded for their humanitarian work as their acting careers, and they're all about making change for good in the world. They've donated millions over the years to various causes, and, according to the Associated Press, reportedly gave the $14 million they earned for the release of the first photos of twins Knox and Vivienne to fund the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation. Talented, beautiful, and compassionate — what a combination!
8. Justin Bieber
More often than not, Bieber makes headlines for his bad boy antics rather than his good deeds, but he has gone out of his way for his fans on more than one occasion, including flying one cancer-stricken fan to visit with him prior to her passing in 2012. They even had a fake marriage ceremony, and fellow Beliebers named her "Mrs. Bieber." Bieber has done lots to give back to his biggest fans, with MTV reporting he bought pizza for fans waiting in a blizzard to see him perform on Saturday Night Live, helped to build a school in Guatemala while there for a concert, and gave 200 concert tickets to students whose schools were devastated by tornadoes in Oklahoma in 2013. More of this Bieber, please!
9. Lisa Lampanelli
In 2011, the stand up comic faced protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, known for their anti-gay message, at a show in Kansas. Lampanelli vowed to donate $1000 for each protester who appeared to the Gay Men's Health Crisis, "the nation’s oldest HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care services provider," according to a press release on their official website. It's reported that 44 protesters showed up, but Lampanelli rounded up and donated $50,000 to the GMHC in a show of support for the LGBT community. Lampanelli also frequently gives proceeds from ticket sales to her comedy shows to charities she supports, including most recently, The Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport, CT, an organization which "strives to break the cycle of abuse and violence — domestic, sexual, and child — by providing services that create hope, restore lives, and drive social change through education and community collaboration," according to Lampanelli's site. Truly lovely.
10 & 11. Sacha Baron Cohen & Isla Fisher
According to reports, the famous couple recently donated $1 million in support of Syrian refugees to help with children's vaccinations, shelter, and other necessities. Bravo!
12. Oprah Winfrey
She's one of the wealthiest self-made billionaires, with a reported net worth of over $3 billion, but Winfrey makes a point to give back as often as she can. According to a spokesperson for her production company Harpo, she has "given more than $351 million to a variety of worldwide causes" showing that her heart is the only thing bigger than her celebrity status.
13. Gisele Bündchen
In 2010, after an earthquake devastated much of the country of Haiti, the supermodel felt so heartbroken that she donated $1.5 million to relief efforts. Many other celebrities, including Pitt and Jolie, Wyclef Jean, and George Clooney also helped tremendously in various ways. Harper's Bazaar UK recently reported that
[Bündchen] is an ardent supporter of environmental charities, donating a percentage of her earning to them every year. She has also donated millions to crisis funds, such as, Brazil’s Zero Hunger initiative and the Japanese Red Cross Society in the wake of the country’s devastating earthquake. In 2003 Gisele also designed a limited edition necklace for Harper’s Bazaar US to raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
What a wonderful role model for her two children.
14. Ellen DeGeneres
At at the 2016 People's Choice Awards, DeGeneres was awarded the People's Choice Humanitarian Award, and with good reason: The talk show host has reportedly donated "$12.5 million for breast cancer, more than $10 million for families affected by Hurricane Katrina, and more than $21 million to individuals and families who shared their stories on her show" over the years, according to SheKnows. These selfless good deeds are no doubt inspiring and helpful to the people who they reach.
15. Michael J. Fox
Due to his longtime struggle with Parkinson's disease, Fox started The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which, according to the foundation's official website, "is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today." In the past 16 years, the foundation has "funded more than $450 million to speed a cure for Parkinson's disease." He's also one of the most public advocates for Parkinson's research, proving that some celebrities can take a horrible situation and make life-changing gestures for less fortunate people struggling with the same illness.
16. Lady Gaga
She's a lady with big shoes and an even bigger heart. Gaga's a huge fan of giving back to various organizations and showing kindness toward vulnerable communities, and she's donated her time, celebrity, and money to so many causes, it's hard to keep track. Most notably, she started the Born This Way Foundation, whose mission statement says they're "committed to supporting the wellness of young people and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world. We achieve this by shining a light on real people, quality research, and authentic partnerships." Gaga is also an outspoken advocate for gender and LGBT equality, especially among young people, and frequently tweets about causes that are important to her, spreading awareness to her millions of followers and fans. Back in 2012, she pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross relief efforts after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in the New York area. Gaga is the real deal, y'all.
17. George Clooney
In 2006, Clooney and his father, Nick, a journalist, smuggled cameras into Darfur refugee camps to document the humanitarian crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of people. He started a non-profit called Not on Our Watch with Ocean's 11 pals Brad Pitt and Matt Damon and returned to Sudan several times to draw attention to the crisis. Still, he said in a 2010 interview, "I've been honored to be able to lend my celebrity to help wherever I can, especially on behalf of the United Nations, but in the case of Darfur it's been the greatest failure of my life." Ever persistent, on March 16, Clooney participated in a protest in front of the Sudanese embassy in Washington DC to draw attention to ongoing violence in the country and was arrested, along with his 78-year-old father, as a result.
While getting himself arrested is quite the extreme case, his actions are so admirable. Bravo!
18. Keanu Reeves
According to PopDust, Reeves is all about sprinkling some goodwill around with little fanfare or attention, which is so wonderful. Reeves reportedly overheard a crew member on the set of one of his films panicking because their partner had been badly injured in an accident and unable to work, thus putting their family in a state of financial distress. Reeves' assistant reportedly reached out to the crew member and "arranged to pay the outstanding house payments as well as all of their partner’s outstanding medical costs," relieving the family of a huge burden. The actor has also reportedly supported PETA, Stand Up To Cancer, and other organizations, and set up a private cancer foundation. These charitable acts have not been confirmed by Reeves, but it seems that he prefers it that way. What a truly kindhearted person he seems to be.
Perhaps one of the most well-known charitable celebrities, Bono has spent his entire career making sure he uses his fame in a positive way. His philanthropy is probably the only thing that could possibly eclipse U2's long and illustrious musical legacy, and that is a good thing! In 2006, The New York Times used the term "the Bono activism conglomerate" to describe his charity work — yes, seriously! — and it's so inspiring. In 2015, The Huffington Post reported, "The global activist co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign, and Product Red — raising money and awareness for the fight against AIDS in Africa. (RED) is the largest business sector contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria." It seems Bono's kindness knows no bounds.
These are just some of the examples of the crazy selfless things celebrities have done, and it's so much more important than the latest Twitter feud or what selfies they're posting today. It's wonderful to see their famous names and star status going to some very worthy causes and people.