By Andy Argyrakis, senior editor, watchgmctv.com
With new opportunities to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate, several artists are encouraging their fans to step up to the plate, and as a result, inspiring participation faster than you can say Twitter. Though countless entertainers give back in some way, shape or form, here’s a sampling of several faith-based places worthy of your time and dime.
Blood: Water Mission
Never ones to shy away from global activism (including the international attention drawn from its hunger-combating Live 8 appearance), it’s no surprise Jars of Clay started Blood: Water Mission.The band members promote the building of clean water wells in Africa and has set up an impressive 971 sites spanning Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia and Rwanda (amongst others). The organization has also branched out to assist with HIV/AIDS testing and has opened three clinics, with the intent to expand as funds allow.
The Home Foundation
Many artists are especially outspoken when it comes to human trafficking, that is being forced into selling of one’s body, which all too often affects young girls. Powerhouse vocalist Natalie Grant felt so compelled by the pressing issue that she launched The Home Foundation, which not only seeks to increase awareness of this growing problem, but provide safe havens and rehabilitation to those sold into the slave-like practice.
Anything associated with U2 or its charismatic frontman Bono is sure to earn headlines galore, but action is certainly more important than awareness. ONE focuses largely on overseas initiatives seeking to combat extreme poverty, cease the HIV/AIDS epidemic, rally for fair government policies and barter for trade reform. And the Irish rockers aren't the only ones taking a stand. Third Day is another mouthpiece making it a habit to call attention to the cause.
Steven Curtis Chapman and his family have adopted not once but three times, so it was only fitting for them to follow through with their oldest daughter Emily's vision for Show Hope, an adoption assistance organization. Aside from helping educate couples on the often complicated process, the program helps hopefuls cut through the barrage of paperwork and offers financial assistance for what can be prohibitively expensive. Show Hope's ministry doesn't end with helping families adopt. In 2009, Show Hope celebrated the completion of Maria's Big House of Hope in Luoyang, China, located in one of the poorest provinces in the country. Equipped with everything needed to care for special-needs orphans, the facility is named in loving memory of the Chapman's 5-year-old daughter, Maria Sue Chunxi Chapman.
Artists For Haiti
The music community was amongst the quickest to respond to Haiti’s devastating earthquake last year and Kirk Franklin was particularly taken by the disturbing images projected throughout the ongoing news coverage. As a result, he called up several famous friends, including Fred Hammond, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, Smokie Norful, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark Sheard and BeBe & CeCe Winans, to record the “We Are the World”-like gospel anthem “Are You Listening: A Love Song for Haiti” with all proceeds going straight to the storm ravaged area.
Hands and Feet Project
Speaking of Haiti, members of Audio Adrenaline were always keeping eyes on the area with its Hands and Feet Project, so much so that frontman Mark Stuart was actually in the country during the earthquake. Assistance has continued in the clean-up efforts, while the organization’s simultaneous mission is to take care of orphans and abandoned children, all the while equipping them with scholastic and spiritual education.
The idea of Radio Rehab came from blue-eyed soul singer Bryan Duncan, who provides a syndicated program that blends topically specific music with spiritual guidance for those coming out of “hurts, habits and hang-ups.” Available through both terrestrial radio stations and online, the show sticks specifically to the aforementioned issues, which are sometimes neglected in the ministry world but nonetheless need to be addressed.
Chynna Phillips For Family Change
Between her travels as one third of Wilson Phillips and half of Chynna & Vaughan, Chynna Phillips has become especially taken by the Los Angelitos orphanage in Tijuana. She also realizes that in a difficult economy donating large sums of money might not be practical, so she suggests contributions of loose change (even in minimal increments), which Chynna Phillips For Family Change bundles up from various drop off boxes (though online donations are also welcome) and passes along to those in need.
Every time you buy a pair of Toms Shoes, the charity of the same name will donate a pair to those without any in under developed countries. Though bands as diverse as Hanson to Hawk Nelson have taken a major stake in the organization, the latter actually set up design your own shoe stations at various concert and in-store appearances, offering incentives for fans who got involved, including exclusive autograph sessions.
To Write Love On Her Arms
Formed by Jamie Tworkowski, To Write Love On Her Arms is an anti-addiction, depression, self-injury and suicide initiative that connects those struggling with treatment centers. The list of bands who’ve been involved is practically a mile long with Skillet, Switchfoot's Jon Foreman, Anberlin, The Rocket Summer and even Miley Cyrus wearing shirts or housing literature stands at their merchandise tables.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).