As a hardcore Taylor Swift fan, I've spent an unsettlingly large portion of the last few years defending her to my skeptical friends. "So she's not a great live singer," I'll say when they grumble about her voice, "but her songs are so well-written and catchy!" Or, "yes, she seems a bit fake sometimes, but that's actually just how she is — she really does like cats and knitting and baking cupcakes!" Yet despite all my attempts, I've learned to accept that some people will just never get on board with liking Taylor Swift — that is, unless I bring up her charitable acts, because if there's one thing that'll convince any critic to give the singer a chance, it's the crazy amounts of philanthropy, wish-granting, and general good deed-doing that Swift does on a daily basis.
And never more so than this year. 2014 may still have four months left, but Swift's managed to do more charitable things since January began than most people do in their lifetimes. Sure, she has more resources — Billboard 's highest money-maker, anyone? — but there are plenty of other wealthy celebrities whose philanthropic actions consist of merely writing a check every once in awhile, if that. Swift, on the other hand, seems to genuinely care about doing good in the world, taking serious time and effort to give back and make an actual, tangible difference. For instance:
Visiting Sick Kids in the Hospital
On Monday, a video was released of Swift talking and singing to a young boy with cancer in the hospital. Instead of simply stopping by for a five-minute photo op, she stayed with the clearly ecstatic kid for a good length of time, talking about his favorite subjects and dancing along to the music. It's a sweet, genuine action, and it's not Swift's first; in March, she visited a New York hospital and bonded with starstruck patients, and in April, she made a surprise visit to the Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, where she stayed for over five hours.
Promoting Global Literacy
As a tie-in to her role in The Giver, a beloved children's novel, Swift recorded a video with the Scholastic "READ" campaign about the importance of literacy and the books that meant the most to her during childhood and adolescence. The webcast reached millions of people, and likely inspired at least a few kids to pick up a novel.
Supporting Cancer Research
Early this year, Swift donated $100,000 to the V Foundation for Cancer Research out of the proceeds for her song "Ronan" (and don't get me started on the goodness of that song — those tears!) which paid tribute to a young boy who passed away from neuroblastoma. A few months later, she donated $50,000 to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, money meant to help build new programs for teens with cancer.
Making Fans' Dreams Come True
Specifically, attending one superfan's bridal shower simply because she was invited. In April, Swift flew to Ohio to surprise Gena, an engaged longtime fan of Swift who'd asked the singer to attend her shower, but never expected her to come. The resulting videos are adorable, showing an overwhelmed, adoring Gena looking like she's having the absolute best day of her life, all thanks to Swift.
Giving Out Relationship Advice
When we all learned a few months ago that Swift was out there on Instagram, secretly liking fans' photos and leaving adoring comments, it already seemed like a pretty sweet gesture. But the singer went above and beyond a few weeks ago, leaving a long, thoughtful comment on a fan's picture filled with love and genuinely good advice. "Feel good about being the kind of person who loves selflessly," she told the teenage girl. "I think someday you’ll find someone who loves you in that exact same way." From Swift's mouth to (hopefully) the ears of every Bustle writer — I mean, adolescent girls — now constantly checking their Instagrams to see if a world famous singer has left a piece of advice. Hey, you never know!
Image: Scholastic; Getty