15 Charitable Celebrities Who Inspired Us To Give Back In 2017

They donated their money and their time to worthy causes.

At A Plus, we love to highlight celebrities who choose to use their fame and fortune to help others and support great causes. There was no shortage of such stories in 2017, as musicians, actors, athletes, and TV personalities gave back to their communities and jumped into action after tragedies and disasters.

In a year in which hurricanes, wildfires, and mass shootings — not to mention a divisive political landscape — frequently dominated the news, it was inspiring to see our favorite public figures doing their part to make things easier and spread a little joy among their fans, while at the same time proving there's more than one way to make a difference.

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In order to recognize the generosity of so many stars, we rounded up some of our favorite stories about charitable celebrities from the past year. We're sure 2018 will see even more famous faces donating their time, money, and voices to worthy causes — and we're making it our New Year's resolution to channel some of that kindness into our own lives, as much as we can.

Keep reading to see some of the famous names who inspired us this year.

1. Chance the Rapper

After making history at the Grammys this year, Chance the Rapper made fans proud when he donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools, calling the gesture a "call to action." He's continued to support his hometown in the months since, launching a fund for arts programs, raising $100,000 for Chicago youth at his birthday party, teaming up with Lyft to encourage riders to round up their fare and donate, and donating 300 pairs of sneakers to Chicago high school students.

"I'm committed to giving the kids in Chicago as much as I can," the artist said of his continued generosity. It was enough to earn him the BET Humanitarian Award this summer. We can't wait to see what 2018 brings for the rapper's initiative.

2. Cole Hamels

Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels already founded the Hamels Foundation with his wife Heidi in 2009 to support education in the U.S. and Malawi. This holiday season, the couple gave the ultimate gift by donating their $10 million mansion in Missouri to Camp Barnabas, a nonprofit which offers programs to kids with chronic illnesses and functional needs. It's the largest donation in the camp's history.

"Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it. Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way," Hamels said of the generous donation.

3. Adele

Adele showed support for her hometown of London this year after the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, which caused more than 70 deaths. Not only did she show up for a vigil shortly after the disaster, but she also had a cup of tea with the firefighters who responded to the event, thanking them for their bravery.

Later, the singer hosted a movie screening of Despicable Me 3 for children who were affected by the fire. "I'm not leaving them, I'm involved now," Adele told the crowd at a concert of her dedication to helping the Grenfell community recover.

4. Matthew McConaughey

Instead of receiving gifts for his 48th birthday this year, Matthew McConaughey chose to give them. More specifically, he helped deliver 4,500 turkeys with bourbon company Wild Turkey and Butterball in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

"Thanksgiving, gratitude, we believe in our family that the more you're thankful for, the more that you show gratification, the more that you're gonna create in your life to be thankful for," McConaughey, who previously helped students at his alma mater get a safe ride home, told volunteers. "I think it's kinda scientific and here's kind of living proof of it right here this morning."

5. Kendrick Lamar

Over the summer, Kendrick Lamar met one of his biggest fans — a quadriplegic woman named Jennifer Phillips, who gets around in a wheelchair and has been to several of the rapper's shows. Phillips had set up a GoFundMe page earlier in the year to help pay for a wheelchair-accessible van, but during their meeting, Lamar surprised her by revealing he would pay for it.

"Thank God for you Kendrick and I will continue to pray for you," Phillips wrote on Instagram later. "And like I said, next time I'm driving myself to your show."

6. Colin Kaepernick

In addition to inspiring the #TakeAKnee movement, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has also made a pledge to donate $1 million, plus proceeds from his jersey sales, "to organizations working in oppressed communities."

This year, Kaepernick made a $50,000 donation to Meals on Wheels, and also supported 100 Suits for 100 Men, which provides business attire to help ex-convicts, homeless people, and others find jobs. In May, he donated 50 suits, and in September, he gave $33,000 to the organization. Kevin Livingston, who runs 100 Suits, called Kaepernick a "hero in my eyes."

We're sure we'll continue to witness the impact of Kaepernick's activism and generosity, on and off the field, in 2018.

7. Miranda Lambert

When Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas this year, many celebrities made generous donations to help people who had been displaced by the storm. Miranda Lambert, meanwhile, chose to focus her attention on her home state's furry friends. The country singer's Muttnation Foundation deployed several vans and buses to rescue dozens of dogs.

Lambert founded the organization with her mother Bev in 2009. "It was important to our AMAZING founder, @mirandalambert that we do our part for her home state!" the foundation wrote on Instagram at the time.

8. Guy Fieri

When wildfires devastated California this October, Guy Fieri was forced to evacuate his home. He used his time wisely, setting up a mobile kitchen in the parking lot of a Santa Rosa evacuation center to cook meals, including barbecue and mac and cheese, for thousands of evacuees and emergency workers.

"Firefighters have been eating out of their big lunch packs, they get these big package meals, which are awesome. But nothing beats a hot meal," the Food Network star told KTVU, adding, "This is the least we can do. We're so happy to do it."

9. Ariana Grande

After a bombing at her Manchester concert killed 22 people in May, Ariana Grande showed her love for the city and her fans by organizing a benefit concert called One Love Manchester. "Music is meant to heal us, to bring us together, to make us happy," the singer said in a statement.

Grande and several other artists, including Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, performed at the show, which drew 50,000 people and raised millions for victims and their families. Before the event, Grande paid a surprise visit to injured fans in the hospital. Her compassionate response to the tragedy earned her an honorary Mancunian citizenship.

10. J.J. Watt

Texan Houstons player J.J. Watt was determined to help after Hurricane Harvey devastated his team's home city. He chose to start a YouCaring fundraiser, pledging $100,000 of his own money to kick things off. "You can donate something small, you can donate something big. Whatever you can donate, please donate to help these people out," he told fans in a Twitter video.

Watt raised so much money, he had to keep raising the goal. The final total was $37 million, which included a $1 million donation from Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk. "There are much bigger things than football going on," Watt said of the fundraiser. 

11. Lil Jon

In October, rapper Lil Jon teamed up with the charity Pencils of Promise to fund the opening of a primary school in the Asuogyaman District of Ghana. "I dedicated it to the Abomayaw community and to my mother," Lil Jon wrote on Instagram. His mother, Carrie M. Smith, passed away in 2013 and had a birthday in October.

The rapper traveled to Ghana for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, where he met teachers and students. The school has three fully furnished classrooms, restrooms, and an office. "God is good," he wrote.

12. Stephen Colbert and Nick Kroll

Late-night host Stephen Colbert and comedian Nick Kroll teamed up in September to give fans a peek at their favorite celebrities' teenage throwback photos, while at the same time raising money to help with hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. The #PuberMe challenge saw more than 200 celebrities sharing their awkward flashback pics, with Colbert and Kroll promising a $1,000 donation for each, to go to One America Appeal, the disaster relief fund started by the five living former presidents.

The initiative ended up raising $1 million, with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda pushing it into seven figures with a video of himself singing about Puerto Rico at age 13.

13. Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his Brees Dream Foundation recently partnered with the Audubon Nature Institute to build Walnut Street Playground. It's the first playground in New Orleans designed to accommodate kids of all abilities, "including those with mobility and sensory challenges."

The entire playground is wheelchair accessible, and there's even a station where kids can learn braille. Brees and his family attended the grand opening earlier this month, where he said there was a "packed house." The athlete's Dream Foundation has reportedly contributed $25 million to charity. We hope Brees' generosity inspires other cities to open similar playgrounds in years to come.

14. Rihanna

Rihanna is dedicated to improving education around the world. In August, her Clara Lionel Foundation (started in 2012 to help impoverished communities) teamed with bike-sharing platform ofo to provide bikes to students in Malawi, as well as funding scholarships for girls in the African country.

As the singer said in a press release, the donation will "help the young girls of Malawi get to school safely, cutting down those very long walks they make to and from school all alone." Just a simple bicycle can have a huge impact on children's education.

15. Céline Dion

Following a deadly shooting in Las Vegas which killed 59 and injured hundreds of others, singer Céline Dion found a way to give back to the city where she has performed since 2011. Not only did she dedicate an October show at Caesars Palace to the victims and first responders, but she also announced that she would donate all of the concert's proceeds to those affected.

"On Sunday we lost too many beautiful, innocent souls and so many are still suffering," she said, with #VegasStrong on the screen behind her. "But tonight we're going to let these families know that we are supporting them and that we will help them through their tragic loss."

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