By Jess Linde
When they’re not filming or accepting awards, film and television actors are often working with charitable organizations on causes they care about.
Actors Robert Gossett and Ed Asner are two such celebrities who have been hard at work in recent years.
Gossett, known for his work on “The Closer” and its successor series “Major Crimes,” is the celebrity ambassador for “Wells Bring Hope,” which raises money to build safe water wells in the drought-stricken West African nation of Niger.
“The entirety of a donation goes directly to the drilling of wells,” Gossett told Westside Today. “No administrative costs are deducted from donations it all goes…just to the well.”
One of the poorest nations in the world, Niger, West Africa is home to almost 18 million people, 61 percent of its citizens do not have access to safe water. Women are affected by the crisis in particular.
“Girls in this nation, as in other nations throughout Africa and other drought-stricken regions around the planet are taxed with going back and forth, walking 4 to 6 miles a day, to get water and that water is often contaminated,” Gossett said. “One in seven children die before the age of 5 from illnesses causes by contaminated water. At Wells Bring Hope we drill safe water wells for the people of Niger.”
Eighty-five percent of the women in Niger, West Africa are illiterate, because it takes hours to get to water , so they aren’t getting educated.”
Installing wells in the villages allows girls to go to school since they don’t have to spend all day collecting water for their families and they build hope for the future, Gossett said.
“That’s the least we can do, is to allow people hope,” he added.
Ed Asner, known most recently for the lead role of Carl Fredricksen in Pixar’s animated film “Up,” has focused on continuing advocacy work for the autistic community.
Last year, Asner gave the commencement speech to the first graduating class of the “Exceptional Minds” program, which trains creative autistic people in the field of professional animation and encouraging film studios to hire them.
“Not everyone gets work, but at least it’s a beginning, and I like the idea of it being called “Exceptional Minds,” because that what autistic people are to me,” Asner said. “I regret that the autistic world is not the real world, because [autistic people] are the finest people I know. They are so honest.”
Asner, who has a son and grandson on the autism spectrum, has been deeply involved with autism advocacy for many years,
Asner recently received the lifetime achievement award at a May 2015 event called “Temple Grandin and Friends” with legendary autism activist Temple Grandin that benefited “Autism Works Now.” The event showcased and celebrated the talents of autistic people.
Participants included former “American Idol” contestant James Durbin and professional makeup artist Mia Mantegna, daughter of actor Joe Mantegna.