Monday, March 17, 2008

The Right Stuff For New Orleans

Brad Pitt joined forces with former president Bill Clinton and a slew of volunteers from the Make It Right 9 project in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, LA yesterday to break ground on the site where they plan to build affordable homes for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Here are a few pics of Brad, Bill and a bunch of hopeful, like-minded volunteers at yesterday's ground-breaking ceremony:

Photo credit: Splash News

Former President Bill Clinton met with actor Brad Pitt and hundreds of volunteers in the Lower 9th Ward on Sunday at the site where a foundation headed by Pitt plans to begin building affordable homes for Hurricane Katrina victims. "We hope to see a huge change here in the next six months," Pitt told a group of residents as he posed with them for pictures Sunday and signed autographs. Pitt and Clinton walked a street as hundreds of volunteers on either side, wielding shovels and rakes, prepared the land for homes. For hours, they cleared overgrown grass and weeds that were covering street drains and sidewalks. The Lower 9th Ward was one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in New Orleans when Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005, causing the city's levee system to fail with devastating flooding. "We're working to get the grounds ready so construction can begin," said Anne Bouthilette, a 20-year-old sophomore history major at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn ... "It is only fitting that we culminate a weekend focused on youth service by turning words into action," Clinton said in a prepared statement Sunday. A brass band played in the background as Clinton and Pitt shook hands and chatted with volunteers. Bouthilette said this was her first visit to New Orleans, and she was enjoying the opportunity to help with the city's recovery. "There's a pressing need for people to come down here and do work," she said. "There are still so many things that need to be done. Everybody can do something." Bouthilette was one of about 600 college students in New Orleans for the Clinton Global Initiative University, a three-day program that began Friday and was designed to challenge college students and universities to tackle global problems with practical, innovative solutions. The event wrapped Sunday with the volunteer effort in the Lower 9th Ward, at the site where Pitt and his Make It Right Foundation are building homes using environmentally friendly materials such as cisterns and solar panels for residents who lost their homes in the storm. Side-by-side Pitt and Clinton broke ground with shovels after their mingling with the volunteers.

It's truly heartbreaking that we are *still* dealing with the aftereffects from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina all this time since the storm destroyed the area. I find it unfathomable that these sorts of relief efforts have to be carried out by concerned private citizens rather than by our government who clearly feel that their focus needs to be someplace else. I know that many people scoff and take a negative view of celebrity philanthropy but I, for one, commend folks like Brad Pitt for putting their money where their mouth is. It really feels that if volunteers like these don't take up these causes and work towards a better future, areas like the Lower 9th Ward might continue to languish if they are forced to wait for the government to step in and take action. [Source]

In related news, Angelina Jolie found herself with sole custody of her entire brood of children Sunday afternoon while Brad was bizzy working with Bill Clinton and various volunteers at the Make It Right 9 ground-breaking ceremony. She decided to take all of her children (including her ever-growing baby bump) out for a stroll to a corner convenience store to stock up on junk food. Here are a few cute pics of mama duck Angelina and her little ones (Maddox, Zahara, Pax Thien and Shiloh Nouvel) following in kind:

Photo credit: Splash News

OMG ... the sight of mama Angelina with all of her kiddies is just too cute for words. I love that Brangelina have no qualms with letting their kids enjoy unhealthy snacks like Chee-tos (which appear to be the junk food of choice for discerning celebrity children ... just ask the Spederline boys). While I'm not at all surprised that Brangelina continue to work at expanding the size of their family, you have to wonder when they are going to stop. Their family of 6 is reportedly going to become a family of 8 (if the twins rumor is to be believed) but something tells me that they aren't going to stop until they reach double-digits. Hahahahaha ... they do make an adorable family -- now. It'll be very interesting to see what this brood will look and act like once they begin to reach adolescence. My money says that little Zahara will emerge as the Queen Bee of the family once as she continues to grow and assert her dominance. [Source]