A Baltimore grandmother visits heaven for an hour before being brought back to life.
By Amy & Nancy Harrington, Pop Culture PassionistasThis week an Oscar contender supports Free the Children, a reality star shows her philanthropic side and an “Idol” gives a wake-up call (with flapjacks).Natalie Portman Announces Free The Children ContestThe last few months have been good ones for Natalie Portman. The 29-year-old actress announced that she is pregnant with her first child and engaged to dancer/choreographer Benjamin Millepied. On top of that her film “Black Swan” is a huge success and she’s landed a Golden Globe Award, SAG statue and Oscar nomination, which is certain to become a win. And yet Portman has found the time to give back.The actress is sponsoring a contest for Free the Children, an organization with a simple mission as stated on their website to “empower youth everywhere to make a difference.” Portman has teamed up with the foundation, which recently opened an all-girls school in Kenya called the Kisaruni Girls’ Secondary School.The Portman-backed initiative, which kicked off on February 1, hopes to raise money for the continued support of the Kisaruni School. The top five fundraisers between now and May 1, 2011, will have an opportunity to explain why they think it’s critical that young women are empowered through education.One lucky winner will be announced on June 1 and will score the Power of a Girl prize pack including the Rodarte dress that Portman wore to the American Film Institute premiere of “Black Swan,” tickets to her next movie debut, a trip to Kenya and more yet to be announced surprises.That Portman sure is a sweet girl.NATALIE PORTMAN FREE THE CHILDREN Keeping up with the Kardashians’ Charity WorkKim Kardashian is known for her lavish, over-the-top lifestyle and her reality TV shows, “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.” And despite the fact that she is an astute business woman, she is pretty much just famous for being famous.But this week on “Piers Morgan,” she told the talk show host that she is a committed philanthropist. Kardashian revealed that she donates 10% of her annual income (no matter how large it is) to Life Change Community Church in Calabasas, California. Kim’s mother, Kris Jenner, founded the church in 2009 with Pastor Brad Johnson. The clergyman officiated at Kim’s sister Khloe’s wedding to Lamar Odom.Kardashian also told Morgan that she donates time and money to the Dream Foundation. The organization is like Make-A-Wish for adults. The Santa Barbara-based non-profit grants wishes to people suffering from life threatening diseases. This past December Kardashian donated clothing for her most recent auction to benefit the foundation. The reality star holds these auctions twice a year to help those afflicted with terminal illness. She once told Look to the Stars, “I feel the Dream Foundation is extremely important because there is no other foundation like it that grants wishes to adults.”Wake Up with David Archuleta and Free Flapjacks“American Idol” fans may have their sites set on Steven Tyler and this season’s new crop of hopefuls. But for fans of season seven, an announcement about runner-up David Archuleta has visions of “Idols”-past dancing in the heads.Archuletta is taking part in the annual IHOP National Pancake Day. If you have a little crush on the singer, you may not be able to wake up next to him, but you can do the next best thing and get a wake up call from him. On National Pancake Day, David will place a wake-up call to your personal number to nudge you out of bed to get free flapjacks.IHOP is giving diners a free short stack all day long from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on March 1, 2011, in exchange for a donation to a local children’s hospital. Guests can also purchase a Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ “Miracle Balloon” to show their support for the fundraising effort. The breakfast chain hopes to raise $2.3 million for kids in need nationwide to add to the the $5 million raised since 2006.If you’re not an “Idol” fan, you can get your call from NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young, legendary entertainer Marie Osmond, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ Founder John Schneider or Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan.You must register in advance, to request your wake up call. Visit IHOP’s website before February 25 for more details.