Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week we speak with actress Scarlett Johansson, four-time Golden Globe nominee, 2010 Tony Award winner, and star of the upcoming film "We Bought a Zoo," due for release in 2012, about her work with USA Harvest, a charity food distribution organization.
USA Harvest evolved out of the smaller Kentucky Harvest, started in 1987. With more than 125,000 volunteers, USA Harvest has provided 11.6 billion pounds of food to organizations nationwide. Itsmission statement says it all: “Moving food from people who have too much, to those who have much too little!”
E-mail interview conducted by Lauren Kramer
Q: What is your experience with charity work?
Johansson:I've worked with many different charities to raise awareness for the charities themselves and the various causes they advocate for. I'm an ambassador for Oxfam, having traveled to Sri Lanka and India to visit sustainable living programs, women's support groups and Oxfam supported schools in both rural and metropolitan communities. I've also recently visited Rwandese HIV/AIDS clinics with (RED) and continue to support USA Harvest by raising money to feed America's hungry.
Q: What is unique or special about this particular charity?
Johansson: One of the many wonderful things about USA Harvest is that the organization is an NGO, a non-governmental organization. It is completely nonprofit so every dollar that is donated goes to buying cans of food. Every dollar buys roughly two cans of food to be delivered to assorted missions around the country that distribute the goods.
A wonderful program USA Harvest offers is called Blessings In A Backpack. Many kids who are guaranteed a hot meal at least once a day at school often really feel the absence of school lunch at the end of the week. This program offers kids food to bring home for the days that they will not be guaranteed a meal at school, like weekends.
Q: What inspired you to join this charity?
Johansson: I was looking for an NGO to support after Hurricane Katrina. While working with USA Harvest, I realized that in times of crisis, while many are trying to get their lives back together, the first thing on one's mind is "how am I going to feed myself and/or my family?" When you're not panicked and distraught about where your next meal is coming from, it's one less struggle to get through.
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Q: What is your role/what specifically do you do within/for this charity?
Johansson: I act as a face for USA Harvest, making people aware of the charity and offering ways on how to help out.
Q: Is there a particularly memorable moment you can recall while working with one of these charities?
Johansson: One of my fondest memories of working with Stan Curtis, founder of USA Harvest, is when we traveled to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans, meeting the community that was being fed daily by donations, and helping to serve on the lunch line.
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