Celebrities often use their status, influence, and likeness to promote good causes. Many undertake charitable work on the regular, setting up their own foundations. With the COVID-19 crisis, many celebrities have taken to Instagram and Twitter to announce their donations and support to relief efforts. Here are some examples of celebrities who are helping out and giving back during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively
A-list couple Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have donated $1 million to be split evenly between Feeding America and Food Banks Canada. The charities feed elderly and low income families and are running at maximum capacity during this crisis. “We can all do something for one another, even if that’s staying home,” wrote Lively.
Reynolds has also put out a call for PPE gear donations, saying he’ll give fans whatever they want (“personalized videos,” “Deadpool Bobbleheads”) if they donate.
The first NBA player to test positive for coronavirus, this Utah Jazz player has donated over half a million dollars toward those who lost their livelihoods during the lockdown, when the basketball arena is not operating. Forty percent of the funds are earmarked for part-time workers at Vivint Home Arena who are not normally eligible for benefits like paid time off or health insurance. He also apologized on Instagram for putting other people at risk to catch the disease before his diagnosis.
Country star Dolly Parton donated $1 million to COVID-19 research for a cure being done at Vanderbilt University. She was among the first to do so, inspiring numerous other celebrities to do likewise.
Elton John set up his charitable organization The Elton John AIDS Foundation back in 1992 to combat the AIDS crisis. But now Elton John has announced his organization launched a $1 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund “to make sure that our frontline partners can respond to the effects of COVID-19 on HIV care for the most marginalized communities around the world.” AIDS sufferers are among the most susceptible to pneumonia, since their immune systems are compromised already. Elton John also hosted the iHeart Living Room coronavirus benefit concert online on March 30 to raise additional funds for charities.
Music superstar Rihanna has put up $5 million for worldwide relief efforts in the battle against COVID-19. Through her nonprofit charity the Clara Lionel Foundation, the money will mostly go to providing breathing equipment in countries like Haiti and Malawi as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) gear which is becoming scarce and expensive. In addition, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo thanked her on Twitter for the PPE donation to his hard-hit state.
This celebrity chef has been doing charitable work for years, most notably with the victims of Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. Although his restaurants are now closed to guests, the kitchens are still open, serving lunches to the poor.
When she was a talk show host, Oprah was most famous for giving cars away to every member of her audience one day. Now she’s making a dent in COVID-19 funding. She has pledged $10 million dollars in total to the cause. The first million will go to the America’s Food Fund, and the other $9 million will be divided up by other causes in the near future.
A music legend with a heart of gold, James Taylor and his wife Kim donated $1 million to Massachusetts General Hospital. The money will go to the hospital’s emergency relief fund, which was originally formed after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, and will go to developing better testing methods among other uses.
Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans has donated money to the relief of stadium workers and employees of the team’s home court, the Smoothie King Center. He pledged to “cover the salaries for all those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days.” He is encouraging his teammates to follow suit.
Philadelphia 76er center and three-time All-Star Joel Embiid is yet another NBA player on a mission. He is working with his team’s owners to fund antibody testing for health workers and first responders, to the tune of over $1.3 million. He has also directly donated $500,000 to pay for PPE gear and other necessities.
“It’s not as easy as simply writing the check,” Embiid said in an interview with ESPN. “It’s a process to figure out the best way you can feel comfortable helping.” He said that antibody testing is vital because it cuts down on the need for PPE; those who have had exposure to COVID-19 are protected from getting it again.
One of the biggest names in fashion, Donatella Versace and her daughter Allegra donated €200,000 (approximately $215,000) to the Intensive Care Unit at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy. Italy has been one of the hardest hit areas of the world, along with Spain, but it seems like their infection rate has finally begun to slow.
This former Project Runway winner who now hosts the program has his own sewing crew for his couture business, but the shop had closed due to the outbreak of coronavirus. When New York Governor Cuomo asked for help finding PPE for the city’s healthcare workers, Siriano stepped up and tweeted an offer to make masks, which was quickly accepted. His generosity has inspired other fashion houses like Brooks Brothers to also sew masks.
Of course the Kardashian clan is contributing to the cause. Kylie Jenner, founder of Kylie Cosmetics, donated $1 million to her local hospital, in care of her personal physician. The doctor showed her gratitude on Instagram for the donation. Not only that, no less than the U.S. Surgeon General himself asked Jenner and her family to use their influence to spread the message of social distancing and staying home, which Jenner has done on several occasions.
The singer made a personal donation to Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, for a specific reason: she had previously received a kidney transplant there. “They’ve taken such good care of me,” she tweeted, “so it’s my turn to show my gratitude.” The amount of the donation was not disclosed but it went towards purchasing more PPE and badly needed ventilators.