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By Amy & Nancy Harrington, Pop Culture Passionistas
This week Robin Hood gives to the poor, Hollywood lends a helping hand at Cannes, a billionaire makes art for charity, a rapper saves families from foreclosure, and Nashville stars help their own. Here are this week’s most inspirational moments in pop culture.
Robin Hood Gives to the Poor to the Tune of $88M
The Robin Hood Foundation gets donations from Wall Street’s rich and gives to New York’s poor. The organization, which raises money to combat poverty in New York City, took in a record $88 million at the annual gala on Monday night. The total far exceeded last year’s $72.7 million.
The 3,600 guests included Wall Street executives, bankers, athletes, and celebrities–all extremely generous with their wallets, and ready to egg on other donors. In the after-dinner pledge drive, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas, and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan encouraged fellow diners to make donations by text message. This portion of the evening raised $26.4 million.
NBC’s Brian Williams hosted the festivities, “SNL’s” Seth Meyers performed, and Jimmy Fallon did a country-style comedy bit. Sting was the surprise musical guest, singing an acoustic version of the Police classic “Message in a Bottle.”
The donations will fund food programs, job training, and charter schools throughout New York City.


Celebrity Charity Events at Cannes
The Cannes Film Festival is mostly about glamorous movie stars and lavish parties, but when Hollywood descends on the seaside village every year, they also take a few moments to give back.
This year there are several big charity events taking place in conjunction with the movie madness. AmfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS dinner and auction is typically the big event of the week. Last year they raised $4.5 million for AIDS research. At the 2010 event on May 20th, Alan Cumming will play the host, Mary J. Blige will entertain, and stars like Emily Blunt, Diane Kruger, Kirsten Dunst, Marion Cotillard, and Benicio Del Toro have RSVP’d to attend.
On May 17th Bono will be hosting a charity event in Cannes that he organized with Wyclef Jean. Proceeds to will go towards helping the victims of the Haiti earthquake. Attendees will be treated to a screening of the new film “Killing Bono.”
Bidding started May 14th for the Cannes Charity Movie Role Party & Auction sponsored by BuyAMovieRole. Proceeds will be split between the charities of various celebrities. One recipient is near and dear to Brad Pitt and George Clooney, Not On Our Watch. Others include Elton John’s AIDS Foundation, Morgan Freeman, and The Mandela Foundation, and Matt Damon’s One Campaign. Auction items will include speaking and walk on roles in upcoming movies like Ben Kingsley’s “The Robin Hood Tax,” Tony Hickox’s “Catwalk,” and the next Stray Dog Films production.
Donald Trump Taps His Artistic Talents
If Donald Trump had tried to have a career in painting, he probably would have heard “You’re fired” quite a few times. Luckily, the megastar mogul followed in his dad’s footsteps and went into the real estate biz.
Those curious about “The Celebrity Apprentice” boss’ artistic ability, and looking for a way to give to a good cause, should check out the Bidding for Good charity auction website. Among the celebrity collectibles they have on the auction block is an original watercolor of the New York skyline by The Donald himself.
The hand written inspirational message from Mr. Trump reads “Dream big.” He should know, it’s worked for him.
Seems like the charitable website has lofty ambitions, too. The opening bid for Trump’s painting is $25,000. The estimated value–“Priceless.” There are six days left but no takers yet– maybe “The Celebrity Apprentice” winner can pay it forward and scoop up the piece.
Will.i.am Wipes Away Mortgage Woes
Will.i.am and his fellow Black Eyed Peas are known for singing, “Tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.” Well Will made sure that it was a good night for two struggling families the other day.
During an appearance on Oprah, the pop icon donated $350,000 to a single mother and a family of eight so they could pay off their mortgages. And his generosity came from a very pure place. He explained, “I’m OK. I don’t dream of being mega, crazy rich. I just wanna be able to create, make music, and help people.”
It’s not the first time the music mogul has taken care of someone’s mortgage. Just last year he surprised his grandmother by moving her into a brand new home and handed her the keys–relocating her from the projects after 50 years.
Flood Relief Rocks Nashville
The stage of the Grand Ole Opry might have been underwater, but that didn’t stop Nashville’s country elite from playing music. In the wake of a devastating flood, local TV station WSMV held a telethon, hosted by Vince Gill, and invited superstars like Amy Grant, Alison Krauss, and Keith Urban, who played with a borrowed guitar because his instruments and gear were destroyed in the flood. The event raised more than $1.7 million for the Red Cross and The Second Harvest Food Bank.
The big announcement of the night came when Gill said Nashville local, Taylor Swift, was donating $500,000 to the relief efforts.
East Coast stars are doing their part to help out, too. Jerry Seinfeld announced that all of the proceeds from his May 14 stand-up show in Nashville will go directly to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
For more on the Pop Culture Passionistas, visit their website.

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