Celebrities, TV Networks Unite to Champion Volunteerism

This fall, the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) -- Hollywood's leading charity -- will mobilize the entire entertainment community around a multiyear initiative designed to inspire a new era of service and volunteerism.

The initiative, called iParticipate, will enlist all four major broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, for an unprecedented, weeklong television event -- shaping up as one of TV's biggest, most innovative public service efforts ever. From Oct.19 to Oct. 25, these and other networks will devote time on more than 90 shows to mobilize viewers to get off their couches and to give back.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in four Americans volunteer, a rate that has remained stagnant for the past 40 years. While volunteerism usually declines during periods of economic distress, it's on the rise in America, particularly among young people, up 1.5 percent in 2008, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

VIDEO: Networks Join Forces for VolunteerismPlay

Audiences will be peppered with celebrity public service announcements (PSAs), end-of-episode pleas from casts and volunteerism segments on reality shows, talk and news programs alike.

Several celebrities will participate, including Blythe Danner, Morgan Freeman, Faith Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Eva Longoria Parker and Kate Walsh. The EIF has already produced a series of PSAs that highlight key areas where volunteers are needed the most. First lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden appear in a PSA asking Americans to assist veterans and military families who need help.


This week kicks off with the announcement of "The View's" Ultimate Volunteer contest winner live on Monday and in volunteer story lines on "Desperate Housewives" and in ABC soap operas "General Hospital," "All My Children" and "One Life to Live."

Check out the iParticipate Web site and this week's edition of USA Weekend.