Thursday, November 12, 2009

Celebrities, Sports Leagues and Corporations Call on Americans to Participate

Since the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act was passed earlier this spring, there have been many actions taken by individuals, organizations and companies to further promote volunteerism and community service. In the past, there have been numerous celebrities promoting all kinds of causes and charities, but lately a younger generation is demonstrating an unprecedented involvement in promoting volunteerism.

Ann Hathaway was recently selected as a spokesperson for ServiceNation, a coalition of organizations aimed to inspire volunteerism, while Usher made a $1 million donation to launch “Powered by Service,” an international movement to seed youth-led service projects. Even the teenage idol, Miley Cyrus, is working with Youth Service America to promote the new campaign, “Get UR Good On” to encourage young people to volunteer and participate in civic engagement.

Many companies also kicked off campaigns to promote volunteerism in various ways. Disney announced its new “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” promotion will start on January 1, 2010, and continue through mid-December, aiming to inspire one million people to volunteer. In this campaign, people interested in volunteering can search for volunteer opportunities through the HandsOn Network and sign up for a day of service (pre-registration and sign-up is a must). After searching for volunteer opportunities, pre-registering and signing up at, participants will be rewarded for their service with a free one-day ticket to one of the participating Disney theme parks.

In addition, Sage Hospitality Resources, a hotel management and development company that works on several major hotel chains including Hilton, Marriott and Starwood, also created a campaign called “Give A Day, Get a Night,” at which people give eight hours of community service and get a 50% discount, or even a complimentary one night stay at one of the participating hotels.

Sports leagues such as the MLB and NBA are also doing their part to promote community service. The 2009 World Series added seven community service focused themes, one for each game of the series. During Game 2, on October 30, 2009, the Roberto Clemente Award was awarded to Derek Jeter for his Turn 2 Foundation and its efforts helping kids. The Award is given in honor of Roberto Clemente, a former Pittsburgh Pirates player who fully devoted himself to community service and was killed in a plan crash en route to a humanitarian mission in Nicaragua.

The NBA held a NBA Cares Week of Service during which teams and players worked with local communities on a series of projects including park clean-up, care package giveaways and food service.

TV stations and shows also played their parts. ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC gathered their stars for public service announcements introducing iParticipate, a new volunteer initiative led by The Entertainment Industry Foundation. During the following week, which was called the “Volunteer Week”, several TV shows had characters volunteering and doing community service in the shows, such as CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Ghost Whisperer and The Mentalist.

The efforts of these many organizations and companies, the Entertainment Industry Foundation and many celebrity personalities, to promote service are a promising effort toward making service a part of everyday life for many Americans. They are further supported by the efforts of the Obama Administration’s call to service and the Kennedy Serve America Act, hopefully providing many more opportunities for Americans across the country to get involved in building their communities


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