Derrick Walton knows what it feels like to be homeless, sleep in abandoned cars and not have enough, if anything, to eat. Therefore, when he established Chef D’s Rock Power Pizza in January 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa, he pledged to shut down his restaurant once a week to help in feeding the homeless.
“I made a promise that if I ever got in a position where I could help somebody, I would give something back,” Walton told Yahoo’s Good News blog.

Although Walton can’t really afford to close his restaurant one night a week, he continues to do so to make sure anyone who needs food can get it – for free.

On April 2, 2014, Walton was invited on the Ellen Degeneres Show and she gave him $10,000 for his cause. Ellen has been partnering with Bank of America to highlight people who give back to their communities. When she heard of Walton, she was touched by his story and wanted to help him get the word out about his restaurant.

Walton grew up in Detroit in a household of eight kids and he learned to cook from his mother. After going to culinary school, Walton said he made some bad choices that landed him homeless.

“It put me in a position where I needed help from others, but the doors were always closed,” he recalls. “I made a promise that if I ever got in a position where I could help somebody, I would give something back.”

After saving up money from a dish washing job and later a line cook, Walton was able to open Chef D’s Pizza. And now, the $10,000 check from Ellen will help him continue to be able to keep his doors open for the homeless on Monday nights.

Iowa is home to almost 3,000 homeless people. The state has a poverty rate of 12.7%. With poverty often comes food insecurity and Walton is doing a small part to alleviate hunger in the homeless population of Des Moines.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Ellen, The Huffington Post, Yahoo, Spotlight on Poverty
Photo: LiftBump

Money is not the only way to contribute to charities, although it is arguably the most effective – unless you are a celebrity. Apparently just being associated with a charity is enough to boost donations by $100,000 per year. Research from the Rutgers’s Business School found charities with celebrity endorsements received a 1.4 percent increase in donations over charities that were not associated with stars.

In that respect, the popular celebrity news website, The Daily Beast, found out who the most charitable celebrities were in regards to lending out their name and fame. Using an in depth survey with forty-eight characteristics via E-poll market research, a list was created with the top celebrities in the charitable running. The list was narrowed after secondary research on, a site that tracks how many charities celebrities are actually supporting. Using Traackr to record the number of actual hits on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and personal blogs, the list was further weighted to reflect the celebrities’ personal effort put into promoting their respective organizations.

Elton John was at the top of the list with support towards a whopping forty-eight charities. Furthermore, his foundation to help treat AIDS victims, Elton John Aids Foundation, is one of his personally founded charities. Though it may be due to the passing of many of Elton’s close friends of because of AIDS/HIV, he hosts enormous galas open to his multitude of famous friends as fundraisers for his organization.

Second on the list is Angelina Jolie, recognized worldwide for her long list of humanitarian efforts. She has visited various nations such as Tanzania, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt and Costa Rica, even during times of conflict and war. Taking a hands on approach, she has provided care and aid to refugees in the aftermath of natural disasters, apartheid, oppression and more. She is the founder of the Maddox Jolie-Pitt, named after her first adopted Cambodian son, an organization which serves to implement sustainable community improvement policies for women and children in Cambodia. Angelina and Brad Pitt sold the first images of their newborn twins to People and Hello! Magazines for $14 million, utilizing the entire sum of money for the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation.

Following Angelina on the top 25 list is Bono, the incredible U2 front man, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres. Some of the most famous stars on television and film are giving huge chunks of their success away to help others, thus becoming role models in the world of charity and fundraising. It is simultaneously inspiring and humbling to recognize that people have the ability to help those in need no matter how famous, wealthy or well off we are in their own lives. Celebrities have a name and a face but their actions are worth so much more than that, and anyone can take action against global poverty.

Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: Marie Claire, The Daily Beast, Look to the Stars

In the fight against global poverty, having the resources to fund projects and the public platform to advocate for change can help effectively implement programs and bring much needed awareness to the cause. For many celebrities, ending global poverty has been a cause worth fighting for. Many have used their fame and wealth to help those in need. These five celebrities have helped the global effort to end poverty and reduce the suffering of the world’s poor.

When it comes to public personalities who capture our attention with their art, Lady Gaga tops any list of performers. Lady Gaga is an active philanthropist whose support of human rights concerns and vocal support of the LGBTQIA community has allowed her to become a legitimate voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. Gaga has partnered with Virgin Mobile to benefit homeless youth and has also partnered with The National Alliance to End Homelessness and Re*Generation. Gaga has also donated generously to survivors of the Haiti Earthquake and has utilized her live tours to advocate for social justice.

Angelina Jolie is not only a celebrity, but a global ambassador who actively fights for those impoverished, disenfranchised, and vulnerable to humanitarian crisis. Jolie regularly works with refugees around the world and makes frequent visits to victims of natural disasters. The Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which she started with Brad Pitt, aims to eradicate extreme rural poverty. She has been recognized by the United Nations as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, and has received numerous awards for her efforts.

Jay-Z may be known more for his rhymes and success as a music executive; however the rapper is also a philanthropist. He has worked to help raise awareness of the global water shortage. He met with Kofi Annan in 2006 to use his tour to bring public exposure to the cause. He went on site to produce a documentary on the topic of the global water shortage – Jay-Z: Water for Life. In addition to his efforts bringing awareness to issues of security and poverty, Jay-Z has also generously donated to the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

Leonardo Dicaprio is a well-known advocate of humanitarian and environmental issues, and frequently utilizes his celebrity to help those in need. The actor is actively involved in a variety of causes and organizations, ranging from blood diamonds to conservation. Dicaprio’s celebrity and generosity have taken up issues of poverty and those related to it. He supports several charities and nonprofits including Feeding America, SOS Children’s Villages, and the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation.

Funny-lady, popular TV show host, and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has also joined the cause of fighting global poverty. She is well known for her warmth and generosity to her fans, and this extends to those in need as well. DeGeneres has worked to benefit Feeding America and supports the Red Cross. She has received numerous awards for her efforts and has partnered with other celebrities, such as Ben Affleck, to help those in need.

– Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer

Sources: Look to the Stars, The Borgen Project
Photo: Blog Spot