Ian Somerhalder is known primarily for his steely blue gaze and starring role in The Vampire Diaries, but did you know that the star is also a passionate environmental activist? In 2010, Somerhalder launched the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF), which empowers young people to start environmental projects—which is why we’ve named him one of this year’s Conde Nast Traveler Visionaries. He talks more about his foundation in the video.
Ian is auctioning off a lunch date in Atlanta via Charitybuzz. All proceeds will benefit the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which is in the process of building an animal sanctuary.
“A big component of ISF is not just habitat or species conservation, it’s animal protection and youth education,” the actor tells EW exclusively. “There are too many animals that are abused, mistreated, and abandoned. They’ve been ostracized, they have behavioral issues, and they’re starving. It’s just unbelievable what we’ve done to the animals, and I think that’s why this is so important.”
The auction is currently live and will run through July 18, and it will help fund the acquisition of land that Somerhalder has his eye on. The plan, he says, is to make this haven a reality “very soon.” And the big goal is to make the sanctuary a place of co-rehabilitation — benefiting both animals and troubled youth.
“If we can give animals a home, we can also take the youth of our country and our world — kids who have behavioral issues, bullying other kids, and halting the progression of those around them — and bring them together to learn compassion from one another. If you have compassion for an animal, then you’ll ultimately have compassion for another human being,” he says. “I’m so tired of the lack of compassion in our world and watching kids grow up in it. I think it’s an amazing opportunity for us to show that having compassion for one another — and all furry, scaled, or feathered creatures — is the only way we can progress.”
To his prospective bidders, Somerhalder adds: “Honestly, all I can say is thank you. I appreciate you and your generosity…. I will try not to bore you to tears.”
In celebration of Earth Day 2012, Edward Norton has teamed up with online coupon giant Groupon to give away $50,000 in donations to three environmental charities. Leveraging his fundraising site Crowdrise, the 42-year-old will dole out $25K to whatever charity raises the most cash for an environmental initiative. Second place will score $15K and third will take home $10K.
Groups have until May 15th to kick their support networks into high gear and beat out the competition. Currently, the official page for the charity contest has the Irvine Nature Center ($710) leading other organizations like Massai Wilderness Conservation ($530), Surfrider Foundation ($440), National Wildlife Humane Society ($365) and the Ian Somerhalder Foundation ($290).
As we’ve seen in the past, expect Somerhalder and his huge network of fans and supporters to rally that total into the top three. I’d be really surprised if his foundation didn’t walk away with something out of Norton’s purse.
To place your vote and donate some cash to an awesome green charity,