Julianne Moore, Katie Couric, and Julianna Margulies: Ladies Who Give Back
Four-time Academy Award-nominated actress
The America that Julianne Moore saw while growing up was a far cry from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. As the daughter of an Army judge and a social worker, she moved 23 times before she turned 18. "I went to so many different schools -- wealthy ones in counties like Westchester and Fairfax, but also schools in remote areas like Nebraska and Alaska," says Moore, 49. "I saw extreme poverty -- the full socio-economic range. And it became clear to me that not everyone gets a fair shot. It was incredibly disturbing."
And so, three years ago, when a friend took Moore to a New York fund-raiser for Save the Children (STC), a nonprofit that offers advocacy, resources, and programs to poor children abroad and at home, it struck a chord with this mother of two. She quickly asked how she could get involved. "People always assume that being a mother motivated me," says Moore, "but it was my experience as a child that did it."
Since becoming an artist ambassador for STC in 2007, Moore has visited schools in poverty-stricken areas such as Appalachia and has spearheaded the STC Valentine's Day campaign, where proceeds from kid-designed cards go to children in need. To date the program has raised more than $200,000, and this in its first two years. "Because of this ridiculous celebrity I have, I'm able to draw attention to a cause I care about," says Moore. "Children cannot help themselves. They need our help, and that's what this is about."
A Favorite Giving-Back Moment
"Last summer Mark Shriver [managing director of STC's U.S. programs] and I went to Washington and lobbied Congress for a Kids Desk at FEMA. FEMA had nothing earmarked for children. Animals? Yes. Children? No. We asked Congress to allocate special provisions for children, and they said yes. That was very exciting."
Getting Her Kids Involved
"Last Thanksgiving my son, Cal, 12, and daughter, Liv, 7, volunteered at a restaurant in New York City. My kids go to a Quaker school, and it's one of the tenets of the Quaker religion to perform community service. My daughter complained that she didn't get to do as much as she wanted -- she wanted to serve the free dinners but she was too little. We explained that what she did was important: She went to each table and said, 'Happy Thanksgiving.' I told her a lot of people wouldn't come in for free food because they were too embarrassed. By being kind, she was making the day a celebration."
"I met with the American Federation of Teachers about doing a lesson program around Valentine's Day. We should use the holiday to talk to kids about kindness and what it means if you tell someone you love them, but also about how they can help someone in need. If we can start reaching children through schools, talking to them about poverty in the United States, it would be an amazing accomplishment."
What You Can Do to Help
Go to savethechildren.org to donate money or to buy a box of Valentine cards ($20). You can also learn about giveclicks.com, which can direct a percentage of what you spend shopping at over 2,000 retailers nationwide toward STC.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, March 2010.