If you’re like us, you may not have realized that Tom’s of Maine doesn’t just manufacture all-natural oral and personal care products. But this year, socially conscious actress and advocate AnnaSophia Robb is teaming up with Tom’s to help bring awareness to the major way they’re giving back.
Robb is doing so by helping to launch Tom’s 50 States for Good program for 2014.
On Tom’s 50 States for Good program
Now in its sixth year, 50 States for Good allows anyone to help raise money for nonprofits that are making a difference for people and the planet. The program encourages people across the country to nominate their favorite nonprofit to receive $10,000 of the more than half a million dollars Tom’s will be donating to grassroots community projects from Maine to Alaska.
When Tom’s reached out to Robb, she was more than happy to get involved in the effort.
“I was a big fan of their products, and then once I found out they were doing 50 States for Good and giving over $500,000 to non-profits throughout the country, I just liked the whole concept,” she shared.
Robb was particularly drawn to the way Tom’s allows people to take a more active role in helping their communities. She stressed, “Not only are they giving back to communities, but they’re allowing people to decide what’s important in their communities and giving them the resources to make it better.”
This year, 50 States for Good will reward one nominated organization in every state and in the District of Columbia with $10,000. Tom’s will be kicking off the effort in Detroit, where they’re rehabilitating Knudsen Park — a once vibrant park now centered in a distressed but recovering neighborhood near Detroit’s historic Eight Mile Road.
And you don’t even have to be in the same state to help.
“The really cool thing is if you can’t attend, you can be a virtual volunteer,” explained Robb. “So you may not be able to lend your money or your time or your resources, but you can just go online to 50statesforgood.com and vote for the different improvements you want to see in the park.”
Once there, you can pick from six items you’d like to see Tom’s add to the Knudsen Park revitalization project. The choices include a play car, basketball court, swing set, picnic table, TerraCycle park benches and park art — which is what Robb voted for, along with the basketball court.
“I had never heard of a concept like that,” Robb enthused about the program and park revitalization project. “I thought it was really neat, and such a great way to build community.”
On other do-gooder endeavors
Robb, who is juggling acting with college classes at NYU, devotes much of her spare time to philanthropic causes. One glance at her social media feeds doesn’t reveal a stream of selfies, as you might find on many other 20-year-olds’ Twitter and Facebook pages.
Rather, Robb’s status updates lay bare her love for various charitable causes. An entire section of her website is devoted to the hashtag #PayItForward, which follows her charity-centric tweets.
It would seem, we suggest, Robb is a big proponent of social media for social change.
“Yes, definitely,” she asserted. “It can really be a catalyst for social change. And it’s such a great opportunity! You can learn so much in so little time. Before the internet and the cell phone, knowledge was all based on what’s in your head and what you can recall,” she told us, recounting a recent conversation she’d had on the subject.
“And now all the information you need is at your fingertips to find out what’s going on in your neighborhood, what’s going on in the world,” she elaborated. “For figuring out, ‘What do I care about?'”
When asked about the volunteer work she enjoys most, Robb rattles off a string of organizations, including TrueSpark, There With Care, PeaceJam, Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Dalit Freedom Network and Cycling Across America, noting, “There are so many special non-profits out there.”
On tapping into her true passion
For her, figuring out which causes to become involved with is simply a matter of getting pissed off.
“Because there are so many different people calling out, saying, ‘We need your help! Listen to me!’ It’s really about reaction to me,” she told us. “What makes me angry? What do I get really heated about? What do I want to change? And if you get really pissed off, like I do, you’ll know it’s right.”
The notion of a pissed-off AnnaSophia Robb may seem surprising, seeing as Robb might just be the most adorable actress ever. But, as sweet as she looks, Robb is not afraid to speak her mind — even if it ruffles a few feathers.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a political person, because I don’t honestly know enough about politics to be a political person,” she said. “But I do know that I’m a moral person, and that when I see something that I don’t believe in or that makes me question the world or what people are putting out into the world, I want to bring it up.”
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It’s a principle she sticks to in her career as well, guiding her to choose roles with powerful messages, such as the Bethany Hamilton biopic Soul Surfer.
“I think that film is something lasting,” she revealed. “After I go away, I think about my legacy. What am I leaving in the world? And I want to be part of something powerful.”