It’s almost cliche now— an international humanitarian disaster happens and a parade of celebrities flock to the scene, cameras in tow. It’s obvious that some— many, perhaps, do it for publicity, while others have a genuine concern for where they are and what they are doing.
Two such celebrities whose efforts seem quite genuine are American actors Mandy Patinkin who’s been on the hit show Homeland for over five years and Susan Sarandon, one of the biggest names in the film industry.
Both traveled to the Greek Island of Lesvos to work with volunteers and see first hand the efforts of the people of Greece to assist hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving on Greece’s border islands.
Patinkin worked the beaches, helping refugees as they took their first steps on European soil. During his experience there, he shot a video that has since gone viral on Facebook, as well as the International Rescue Committee’s YouTube channel.
Patinkin shared his experiences— as well as praise of the people of Greece assisting with the crisis to numerous U.S. and international media, including on The Late Show with Steven Colbert where he singled out the people of Greece in a quick statement.
Sarandon arrived in Greece in mid December with RYOT.org, a news website that links every story it publishes to an action. She will stay there through the Christmas holiday, hoping to bring attention to “what is happening in this corner of the world,” she told the Athens Macedonian News Agency.
Sarandon joined team of Spanish rescuers and lifeguards called PROEM-AID who help guide refugees safely to shore.
“We are again blessed with a sunny day and calm sea. Refugees begin arriving in the south. The landings are without incident. Babies are passed into volunteers arms, wet shoes and socks removed, blankets distributed. There are tears of relief. These boats arrived safely. With inexperienced drivers, chosen randomly at the helm, this is not always the case,” Sarandon wrote on ryot.org in a journal-like entry.
Her volunteer work is gaining mass publicity from numerous mainstream American portals, including People Magazine and The Huffington Post, whose combined reach is upwards of 60-70 million unique readers every month.