Each month, we highlight a celebrity in a specific charity and have that person talk about his or her work on behalf of the charity's cause. This month, we speak with former Monkee Davy Jones about his work on behalf of the charity Kohl’s Cares for Kids. The singer recently teamed up with author Sandra Boynton to create a book and song titled “Your Personal Penguin” to support the cause.
Question: How long have you been involved with Kohl’s Cares For Kids?
Answer: I met Sandra Boynton who wrote the book “Your Personal Penguin” and many other children’s books and she asked me if I would accompany the book with a song you download from the Internet. … I understand that Kohl’s is now going to donate so many of these books and other books that Sandra has written. You know the secret to the whole process for me as an entertainer is that it does not have to be dollars and cents at the end of the day, and people have to get over that. Entertainment seems so decadent and so outlandish that most entertainers that are not in the in the tabloids live quite a normal life and are involved, whether it be a local golf tournament or whether it be a local charity. For years I’ve had a charity based in New York that I’ve donated money to through different events and things that I’ve participated in .. for MS (multiple sclerosis). My niece died 10 years ago and I became involved. I notified my fans and my fans then donated money, went out and raised money and slowly we started building up more money towards this charity. … It just seems to be that, you know, most people tend to rely on the horror stories that they feel are newsworthy but there are so many good things happening that don’t get noticed, and it’s not just for entertainers.
Q: Why specifically do you support this cause?
A: Children learning is a very important thing. … I think the written word is so important, and the connection for me is Sandra Boynton and her books for children. I have two grandsons, and my daughter, before I got involved with Sandra and with “Your Personal Penguin,” they … bought all of her books. … It’s about learning and these books teach that you know. Music and song yeah, you know reading and singing.”
Q: What were you doing for the charity today?
A: I was performing … the song (‘Your Personal Penguin’). … You get the book and inside it tells you how to go download the song. You don’t have to pay for it, you just download it.
Q: You performed this song with Sandra Boynton?
A: She wrote the song and she produced the song and we went into the studio and I sang the tune. … She’s very in tune with what’s going on. … She put this book together quite a while back. It just happened that penguins are very, very popular now … so however we could please the children, give them basic family entertainment.”
Q: What’s the most moving experience you’ve had with this group?
A: Just the fact that they’ve included me. … Teach your children well. They are the future. You’ve got to be very careful what you present to children and that’s what I want to be part of. Because there is so much bad press. You know entertainers get so much bad press in so many different ways, but not everybody is a drunk, and drug addict in recovery.
Q: Why should people support this cause?
A: Well, it’s about education. It’s about educating the children into music, into the written word and not just, you know, passing it off. … I went to school until I was 14 years old and I and I was in New York when I was 15 on Broadway. My daughters had reasonably good schooling, and Annabel has decided to be a singer and a performer and a songwriter, so maybe she’ll go back to college and pick up a degree somewhere. … Jesse (Jones' girlfriend) is an entertainer and performer and an actress and she has a psychology degree. So with that in her background, maybe she could understand better how to present herself on the on the stage.
Q: So education is the key to everything?
A: It is the key to everything. … It will benefit you in the future to get an education and read. I gave up reading for many many years and then all of a sudden in the last five or seven years, I have these glasses and all of a sudden I realized the reason I wasn’t reading was because I couldn’t see the books. So don’t wait until it’s too late, it’s never too late to learn.”
Interviewed by Giacinta Pace of NBC News.