Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Soles4Souls Founder Wayne Elsey Featured in E! Online

As seen on E! Online:

Why don't celebs adopt American kids?

Is there something wrong with America? Why do celebrities always seem to go outside of the country to adopt or open schools or help people? There are plenty of poor people here in our country who could use money or help.—Katy, Oakland, California

The B!tch Replies: Scale, baby, scale. Performers love everything around them to be big. Big, baby! Big-budget movies with massive helicopters making gargantuan explosions over towering dinosaurs and Olympian volcanoes spewing tons of nuclear waste over Herculean spacecraft from not Mars, not Venus...but JUPITER, baby!

Same deal with charities. Why help a few hundred folks who need shelters or reproductive education when you can help thousands who will die in the next six months without your intervention? Now, that's a Hollywood elevator pitch.

By those standards, the neediest of all continents these days appears to be Africa, which in many areas remains devastated by war, famine and disease. That, charities say, is the main reason celebrities focus on Sudan, Sierra Leone and Namibia rather than Appalachia or even hurricane-devastated New Orleans.

"You and I, walking down the streets of Nashville or Chicago, see homeless people," explains Wayne Elsey, founder of the charity Soles4Souls, "but we don't see a refugee camp of 40,000 people under 17, where half of them may be dead in six months because of disease."

Ergo, Scarlett Johansson recently teamed with Reebok and Soles4Soles to donate 2,000 pairs of shoes to the needy in Sudan, while Don Cheadle and Jessica Alba have both donated autographed pairs of sneaks to the same cause.

And it certainly hasn't hurt that St. George of Clooney and Angelina Assumpta have also visited unto Africa and seen that it is good.

Speaking of Angelina, you also asked about adoption. Adopting from Ethiopia—home of Jolie's daughter, Zahara Marley—can be faster than other international or domestic adoptions. Same goes for Vietnam, where Jolie's adoption of three-year-old orphan Pax Thien was completed less than a year after she first started filing paperwork and whatnot.

Another media report claims that, in the U.S., adoptions can actually be more complicated. Prospective parents have to be approved by a birth mother and wait for the mother and father to cede parental rights before a handover can happen. Not so overseas, the article says.

That said, Sharon Stone is one of a handful of celebrities who have chosen domestic adoption. And when you're Sharon Stone, nothing is ever that complicated.

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