Supernatural stars Misha Collins, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are using their fame and fandoms to give back to charity. All three actors have taken up the call to help raise awareness about a number of topics, while also giving support to a number of different charities and organizations.
Collins, who plays the angel Castiel on Supernatural, is the founder of the non-profit charity Random Acts, as well as the host of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen (GISHWHES). With GISHWHES, there is a belief that being normal is highly overrated and that instead, to truly live is to experience the artistic creations of a community, to witness the artistry found in public performances and through random acts of kindness. The message with GISHWHES is that every single person is an artist and that each person has a talent or gift that is useful within society, no matter what an individual’s talents or capabilities are.
These scavenger hunts might include going to a children’s hospital in order to put on a sock monkey performance, to the absolutely crazy, such as acting like a pool boy in a Star Wars costume. In fact, GISHWHES has broken a number of Guinness World Records. These records include, getting the most pledges to perform “charitable Acts of Kindness” at a staggering 93,376 and the most global hugs ever given at 108,121. This combined with their work to help raise money in order to fully furnish a wounded veteran and his family’s home or delivering food to the homeless, make this so much more than the average scavenger hunt.
Then there is Collins’ Random Acts charity. In December of 2009, the Supernatural actor sent out a Tweet to his followers, known as minions. In the Tweet he asked for ideas for a “minion stimulus project,” all with a goal of finding ways to garner United States government stimulus funds to be used in initiatives for non-profits. This original idea was soon nixed in favor of becoming a charity that was privately organized.
Random Acts, which was originally MinionStimulus for his Supernatural minions, has undergone a number of changes since it first began. From a name change to becoming a not for profit organization under a parent company, The Art Department, Inc., Random Acts is looking to “conquer the world, one random act of kindness at a time.”
Using both their fandoms and their fame, the Supernatural stars have chosen to also team up with Padalecki’s fundraising campaign, Always Keep Fighting. The campaign, which was initially a solo project on Represent, was designed to raise awareness for mental health issues, as well as the good works of the To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) organization.
In an open and honest dialog on the original campaign page, Padalecki opened up about his own experiences with loss associated with depression. The Supernatural actor talked about losing a friend to suicide at the start of 2015, and that this was not the first friend he had lost either. His hope, however, was that it would be the last.
With Padalecki’s initial Always Keep Fighting campaign, the actor hoped to not only raise money for an amazing charity, TWLOHA, but to also get a discussion going about the on going struggles that so many people face every single day. The fundraiser was designed to be more than just a way to raise money, it was meant to remind people that there is nothing to be ashamed of, everyone has their demons. There is a battle that every single person must face and there is no shame in asking for help.
The success of that initial campaign went above and beyond the original goal. Thousands of shirts were sold in the first go around and discussions were started. Entire movements were started, all with the help of #AlwaysKeepFighting and #SPNFamily. Even additional charities were added to the mix in order to help as many people as possible.
On March 19, 2015, Padalecki posted to his Facebook page about the ending of the campaign. That night the campaign was coming to a close and Supernatural had a return to the air with new episodes. In his post, he discussed the fact that the episode of Supernatural that night, was addressing soldiers coming home from war, and how so many come back with PTSD. Oftentimes, the PTSD is even accompanied by thoughts of suicide. To honor those men and women, Padalecki said that a portion of the proceeds from that original campaign would also be sent to the Wounded Warriors project.
Following the completion of the initial, Always Keep Fighting campaign, Padalecki spoke about how humbled he was by the success of the fundraising efforts. On April 1, the actor posted a picture of all of the shirts getting ready for shipment. He asked his fans, followers and everyone who made a purchase, to show off their shirts once they received them.
As the shirts began to arrive, people shared their photos, and Padalecki himself shared photos and had an album dedicated to the pictures. Then on April 10, he posted a picture collage of all the people with their shirts, transformed into a representation of the front of the shirt from the campaign. In the message, he said that there would be news coming up as the movement was not over. People were still talking and sharing their stories. What started with the first Always Keep Fighting campaign, was exactly what the Supernatural star wanted. There were discussions continuing, not only amongst the fandom, but also with people who had learned about the campaign in other ways.
Two teasers and hints later, on April 16, a new announcement was issued with a brand new chapter to the Always Keep Fighting campaign. This time, however, Padalecki was joined by his Supernatural costar, Ackles. Now both men were working together to call attention to issues that matter.
On the new Represent campaign page, the new merchandise logo is specifically, “Moose & Squirrel Say Always Keep Fighting.” This Supernatural reference is essentially a shout-out to the fans and the fandom. Ackles and Padalecki address the success of the first campaign and what their new goal is for doing a part two to the already successful Always Keep Fighting.
In discussing the success from the first time, it is mentioned that hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for a number of worthy charities. Everything from TWLOHA, St. Jude’s and the Wounded Warriors, benefited from the first fundraiser. Now Padalecki and Ackles are hoping to benefit not only these great causes but many more.
The Represent page says that their eyes have been opened to even more causes and charities that are worthy of attention. Not only that, but the idea that helping people as a group and working together as a team makes everything better in the long run.
This new campaign is about supporting as many individuals as possible and making a difference. In fact, this campaign specifically says that it is set up to support a number of charities and causes, ones that will help to make the world a better place not only in the future, but now. They also make a point to reference one of their own inspirations.
We have a close friend (though much older than we) that “Randomly” performs certain “Acts” that change the world, and people’s lives, for the better. It’s been an inspiration, and we thought, we should do that too!”
Not only have they started this fund in order to reach out to a number of charities, but have also said that they will be working with Collins and his organization Random Acts. This joint effort is a way to get a broader reach and to hopefully accomplish things that they would not have been able to accomplish on their own.
The Supernatural fandom has once more come together to promote this new campaign. The @WinchesterBros fan site is even holding daily giveaways of the shirts. In less than 24 hours after the launch of the new shirts, more than 10,000 had already been sold. This alone is 9,000 shirts over the original goal of 1,000. On top of that, the campaign was scheduled for 14 days, so the goal was met and smashed with 13 days left to go.
Not only is this the power of true human goodwill, but it is also the power of fame and fandoms. After 10 seasons on the air, Supernatural has a following that easily numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
Three Supernatural stars, all giving back to good causes and charities with the help of their fandom and their fame. As both Padalecki and Ackles state in their campaign, this is only the beginning of doing good work.
By Kimberley Spinney