- - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hollywood is more than just a place to create movies and television — many celebrities use their fame for charity and nonprofit work. Altruism is alive and well in Tinseltown, as two major events at the weekend aimed to raise awareness for the environment, the First Amendment and medical initiatives in Africa.

At its annual Hollywood fundraiser at The Pacific Design Center, The Geanco Foundation honored Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch for his humanitarian efforts.

“They asked me if I wanted to be involved and help out,” the English actor told The Washington Times at the event. “I knew I was going to be in town for this world premiere of ‘Dr. Strange,’ and I thought, why not? It’s very nice to be able to give back.

“I would love to acknowledge the real superheroes, the men and women who work tirelessly, with all their world-class expertise as doctors, medics and surgeons, teachers and volunteers to help young and old people fulfill a better life in very dire circumstances, far away from all the glitz and glamour of this,” Mr. Cumberbatch said.

Created in 2005, Geanco’s leads regular hip and knee replacement surgical missions in Nigeria. Proceeds also funded the David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship for Girls, which provides scholarships for girls impacted by terrorism.

“All charitable enterprises want to offer empowerment, to give back something that should never have been taken away from people in the first place, which is innocence, education, love, security and a future,” Mr. Cumberbatch said during his acceptance speech, adding he felt privileged to receive the Global Promise Award for his humanitarian work, which has included speaking out in London about raising money for the Syrian refugee crisis.

“Nothing really — even more so as a parent — speaks more to the heart, the core of the world’s problems as the suffering of children who are denied those basic human rights,” the actor said.

At the 26th annual Environmental Media Awards at Warner Bros. Studios Saturday, “Snowden” star Shailene Woodley, who recently was arrested in North Dakota for protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, received the Futures Award for her contributions to the environment.

“I had a Facebook Live feed going with 40,000 people watching, and I was the only person out of 300 people who got arrested,” Miss Woodley said. “So there is obviously a big desire to keep this silent.

“It’s important to go green, but what’s really important is standing up and making our voices so loud that they have no choice to ignore us,” Miss Woodley added. “The time is now. We cannot let this oppression continue — not only to the indigenous communities of our world, but of the future children.

“I want to make sure that my grandbabies don’t have to buy a bottle of water for $20 because clean water is hard to find,” she noted.

Producer Deia Schlosberg, who along with director Josh Fox received an EMA Award for their documentary “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change,” also spoke about her recent arrest for taking video of U.S. oil pipeline protests.

“I didn’t want to be out speaking about First Amendment rights. I didn’t think that would be a necessity,” Ms. Schlosberg said. “If journalists aren’t allowed into those places to tell those stories, it denies everybody their right to know what is going on and to be informed citizens.”

Ms. Schlosberg and Mr. Fox are facing decades in prison for their activities, according to The Guardian, which free speech advocates have taken as a serious threat against freedom of the press.

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