“We may be apart right now, but coming together has never been more important,” says the Global Citizen, an organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty. And it has a point. It seems crazy that just a few months ago, we were all commuting to and from work, attending school in actual classrooms, and giving our friends hugs in person instead of responding to their Facebook posts with the new “Care” reaction. But what’s even more crazy is how being separated has caused so many people to come together.
And that includes a class of people we sometimes think are immune to such things as pandemics: celebrities.
Many celebrities have collaborated these past few months in an effort to not only keep us all entertained at home but to raise money to combat the coronavirus and provide for those in need. Some of these events have already passed. Some of them are in process. But all can be viewed online, if you’re so inclined—a way to combat your boredom and COVID-19 at the same time.
Churches Helping Churches
Like a lot of individual families, many small churches are struggling financially due to the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. As a result, dozens of Christian artists, athletes and pastors have joined together in a movement called Churches Helping Churches. And today—May 15 at 8 p.m. ET, they are putting on a benefit concert that will be broadcast live on Facebook.
Featuring appearances from TobyMac, Kirk Franklin, Lauren Daigle, Lecrae, Benjamin Watson, Focus on the Family’s own Jim Daly and more, the concert will donate its proceeds directly to the churches most at risk of not making it through lockdown. “We are rallying together to raise money and awareness to help our brothers and sisters in Christ,” says Nick Hall, Founder of PULSE, a movement that seeks to empower the Church and awaken the culture to the reality of Jesus. You can learn more about this movement and donate now here.
Well-known Christian actors and siblings Kirk Cameron and Candace Cameron Bure hosted their own COVID-19 benefit concert back around Easter called Hope Rising. The event featured performances by top artists Casting Crowns, Mercy Me, Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes, Newsboys, Natalie Grant, Matthew West, For King and Country and Gloria Gaynor—all from their sofas and home studios. There were also several inspirational messages from Bishop T.D. Jakes, Kristen Chenoweth, Franklin Graham and Lysa TerKeurst reminding us all to trust God during this difficult time and to keep praying as we continue to find ways to help.
You can still watch the entire concert on the official Hope Rising Facebook page. Thus far, Hope Rising has raised over $1.7 million to aid Samaritan’s Purse, which has set up multiple medical tents in New York City’s Central Park to help treat COVID-19 patients. And if you want to support this effort, Samaritan’s Purse is still collecting donations on its website.
Back in March, Lady Gaga announced that she was partnering with Global Citizen and the World Health Organization to curate One World: Together at Home. The historic event, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, aired on April 18th across multiple streaming platforms and (in a rare collaboration) broadcast television networks. It featured appearances from Billie Eilish, Elton John, John Legend, Lizzo, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and even the Muppets of Sesame Street.
The event, tagged with the hashtag #TogetherAtHome, raised over $35 million for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund (a global outreach created by the WHO to provide medical equipment, tests and treatments for the coronavirus) before it even aired.
Part of that can be attributed to Gaga’s own fundraising experts. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Gaga explained that she didn’t want to create a traditional telethon event. She recognized that the “we’re all in this together” mindset wasn’t exactly true for all people, because some are dealing with unique economic challenges. For the single parent, for the person who has lost their job, for people living in third world countries, this epidemic has had a very different meaning—especially financially—and the last thing she wanted to do was get on television and ask them to give up the resources that they do have. So, she spoke personally to philanthropists, corporations, government officials and artists asking for donations to ensure that the event would help people in need even if nobody was able to give.
To date, #TogetherAtHome has raised more than $127 million both for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and for local and regional responders. If you missed it the first time around, you can check out replays of the event at Global Citizen’s YouTube channel (and soon online streamers such as Amazon Prime). Also, parents should be cautioned that while the event was mostly appropriate, some celebs made some interesting wardrobe choices (John Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen, made an appearance wearing a towel wrapped like a dress).
Of course, #TogetherAtHome isn’t the only secular celebrity-sponsored event raising money to combat COVID-19. Actresses Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams founded #SaveWithStories earlier this year. Together with their fellow actors, athletes, musicians and politicians, they’re reading stories on Instagram (which you can check out here) to provide “a little fun, a little education, and a little distraction for kids and parents.”
The donations they receive enable Save the Children and No Kid Hungry to provide food and critical educational resources to nearly 90,000 children in 200 school communities across the country. More than 100 stories have been read so far by celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pratt, Kerry Washington, Natalie Portman and Lupita Nyong’o. And according to Deadline, they’ve raised about $1.7 million from at least 25,000 different donors. Says Garner:
This time has really shown how much food insecurity there is, how reliant people are on schools and what a job they have. So schools are really trying their best to have people in the cafeteria to make the food. Save with Stories is giving them money for the bus drivers and money for the gas to get out to deliver to these small communities where people can’t come in.
Right now is probably the only time these unique forms of entertainment will be available to us. Because as quarantines around the country are slowly lifted, many of these celebrities will have schedules too jam-packed with tours, interviews, and filming to sit at home and record an Instagram Live session with their fans. So if you’re looking for opportunities to benefit coronavirus relief efforts or if you’re just interested at getting an inside look at your favorite celeb’s home, these are some ways you can do so.