By Katelyn Fry
The holiday season is a time of love, compassion, giving and selflessness. It’s also the perfect time of year to focus on some of the most generous CelebAunties! These BenevolAunts not only offer love and support to their nieces, nephews and godchildren, but are Aunties to the World!
1. Jennifer Aniston
This timeless beauty has come quite a long way since her “Rachel Green” days, in both her professional and personal life. The 47-year-old actress is proud Auntie and godmother to gal pal Courtney Cox’s daughter, Coco, and has stretched that role far beyond her Friends co-star’s family.
According to LookToTheStars.org, Aniston has supported over 22 charities, with causes ranging from pediatrics, to feeding the hungry, to housing for the poor, to protecting victims of sexual abuse. Aniston is most commonly known for her work with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, which she has remained an active and generous advocate for since 2008, determined to help provide doctors with all of the resources available to study and combat cancer. And just last week, it was announced last week that Aniston is continuing her work with the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign.
2. Meghan Markle
This next Savvy Auntie has been quite popular in the media recently, after confirming her relationship with the Royal Family of England’s Prince Harry. Known best for her role on USA network’s Suits, the 35-year-old actress is an ABC to best friend and fashion stylist Jessica Mulroney’s three children, six-year-old twin boys, Brian and John, and three-year-old Isabella Veronica (“Ivy” for short).
People magazine writes that “Beginning at a young age, [Markle’s] mother took her traveling to remote places around the world that opened her eyes to poverty,” which explains her widespread charity work. Markle was recently declared the Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada, an international child-sponsorship organization, which led her to visit Rwanda in support of their Clean Water Campaign. “I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches – I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works,” Markle proudly tells People.
3. Oprah Winfrey
Easily one of the world’s most famous and generous PANKs, Oprah extends her aunthood to the world through her involvement with over 29 charities across the globe. Not only does she contribute to these organizations financially, but she spends a large portion of her time explaining and promoting the importance of all charity work.
To name just a few, she established The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation in 2007 as a means of funding the Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, she actively donates to Project Cuddle, an organization that rescues babies from abuse and abandonment. Oprah is “one of the largest contributors” to Free The Children - a program that seeks to build schools in under-developed countries. It’s estimated that Oprah has given a whopping $40 million dollars to a wide variety of causes, and reportedly has allocated $1 billion dollars for philanthropies in her will.
4. Taylor Swift
This country-gone-pop star is best known for her catchy songs and elaborate music videos, but as best friend Jaime King explains, one of Swift’s best features is her generosity, her “selfless acts…[which] go unnoticed because she does them silently, from such a great place of unconditional giving.” What King is referring to is Swift’s donation to Cedars-Sinai, the hospital that saved King’s newborn son’s life after he had to undergo major heart surgery. The King family did not know if baby Leo Thames was going to survive, but the now 15-month-old is happy and healthy as can be.
After having Leo’s disease, Transposition of the Great Arteries, hit so close to home, godmother Taylor Swift was determined to do what she could to help other families affected by this illness, and donated a sizable tribute this past August to the hospital and team that helped her beloved godson.
Swift has been generous throughout her career, from a 2008 $100,000 Red Cross donation for relief after the Iowa flood, to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through her concerts, to donating signed guitars for auction.
5. Lady Gaga
From singer/songwriter, to dancer, to fashionista, to actress and now philanthropist, Lady Gaga has proven to be an Auntie-of-all-trades. Godmother to childhood friends Brian and Angie Newman’s baby girl, Sistilia Newman, as well as to Elton John and David Furnish's son Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, Gaga is involved in 17 different charities, most of which are geared toward children. And in 2011, drawing inspiration from her hit song, Gaga established the Born This Way Foundation which seeks to bring comfort and confidence to young people struggling to accept/express their sexual/gender identities.
That same year, during her Monster Ball Tour, Gaga offered VIP tickets to anyone who volunteered at homeless youth organizations, and as a result, raised more than $80,000 to help homeless youth and “generated 30,000 hours of community service for hundreds of charities across the country.”
6. Rachael Ray
This star’s savvy skills are not limited to the kitchen! When she’s off-camera, the 48-year-old chef and talk-show host spends a large portion of her time working with multiple charities geared towards ending hunger. In 2007, Ray created Yum-O!, “a nonprofit organization that empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking through three main initiatives: Cook, Feed, and Fund,” according to Yum-O.org.
LookToTheStars.org reports that Ray is also actively involved with a number of similar organizations, including Feeding America, Food Bank For New York City, Keep A Child Alive and The Lunchbox Fund.
7. Miley Cyrus
While Miley and actor Liam Hemsworth haven't yet made their wedding date public, Miley is already part of the Hemsworth family. “She is [’Aunt Miley’] already," Liam's brother told PEOPLE Magazine in September. She plays with our kids. She loves our kids,” Samantha Hemsworth, Luke wife, added.
In 2014, the former Disney star-turned-pop-star and current NBC’s The Voice judge, was named the 4th most charitable celebrity by the non-profit, Do Something. Throughout her career, Cyrus has been an active participant in the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and in 2009, she ignited Get Ur Good On with Youth Service America which encourages young people to volunteer their time and rewards them for doing so.
Cyrus also played a large role in providing relief to Haiti after its 2010 earthquake, traveling there and distributing over 400 hearing aids to deaf children who couldn’t afford medical care. Cyrus actively donates to and spreads awareness for Feeding America, is the face of Mac Viva Glam - proceeds of the sale of which go directly to HIV research. Cyrus also launched her own non-profit, Happy Hippie, which offers various means of support to homeless LGBTQ youth.
8. Emma Watson
Since casting spells and being the teacher’s pet of Hogwarts, British actress Emma Watson has shifted her career to a more humanitarian route. Named GQ Magazine’s 2013 Woman of the Year, “Watson has helped end global poverty on a level that few have met,” writes BorgenProject.org, a nonprofit backed by Watson that seeks to end poverty and hunger.
LookToTheStars.org reports that Watson actively supports several different organizations with various causes, such as Millennium Promise which also focuses on poverty, ShelterBox, which involves disaster relief, Sense, which centers around physical disabilities, specifically blind/deafness, and the Small Steps Project, which seeks to aid homeless children. In addition, Watson has also shown her support of gender equality by advocating for the HeForShe campaign, and recently becoming a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador.
9. Margot Robbie
In a relatively short period, the 26-year-old Australian actress and Savvy Auntie to boyfriend Tom Ackerley’s niece, has become both a cinematic and philanthropic icon. Batman-News.com, a website that keeps tabs on all actors who play superhero roles (Robbie just starred in DC Comics’ Suicide Squad), reports that this past May, Robbie participated in Red Nose Day, a “celebrity-filled primetime fundraiser” that seeks to use “entertainment to raise awareness and money to help kids in need around the world.” This year, the organization managed to raise over 30 million dollars.
In October, 2015, Robbie went one step further than most when she and a group of friends flew to Cebu, Philippines, where they cooked for and served over 400 Filipino children, and “had fun” the whole time, according to InternationalBusinessTimes.com.
Robbie has also participated in the celebrity-geared BGC Charity Day, when celebs go to BGC offices across the world “to man their phones and speak with clients” in an attempt to raise money for charities that offer help to families directly affected by 9/11.
10. Elizabeth Gilbert
Liz GIlbert, a big supporter of Savvy Auntie, coined the phrase "Auntie Brigade" in her 2010 bestseller: Committed, noting how childless aunts have long gone unacknowledged for their tireless work on behalf of children around the world, throughout time. GIlbert herself is childfree by choice, and proud aunt of her sister's two children.
The host of the Magic Lessons podcast not only gives charitably on her own, but she, author Cheryl Strayed, and several others, helped to raise $1 million for Syrian refugees in just one day in 2014 through their Compassion Collective campaign.
These BenevolAunts have affected the lives of children, women and men, everywhere – and in a countless number of ways. It's very inspiring! Of course, we don’t need an Academy Award, Grammy, or millions of dollars in the bank to make a difference. As Emma Watson put it, paraphrasing Rabbi Hillel, we can ask ourselves this: “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
Photo: St Jude
Published: November 22, 2016