Kid carnival revels in joy of giving

Youth Impact Report 2012: Variety's Power of Youth

Variety’s Power of Youth event isn’t all fun and games, although there will be plenty of that on Saturday.

Designed to celebrate the joy of giving back, the event gives young stars a chance to learn more about philanthropy and meet those in need, while also enjoying entertainment and activities.

Hundreds of young stars and those that work with them will converge on the Paramount lot for the block party, now in its sixth year. The young stars come prepared to man charity booths of their choosing and hear about other ways to give back. Many of them return to the event year after year. It has brought in $3 million in charitable contributions so far; this year’s event is presented by Cartoon Network and sponsored by Allstate, Sony PlayStation. Ford, Coca-Cola and District Clothing.

“Two and a Half Men” star Angus T. Jones, an early supporter of the event and honoree last year, credits his mother with teaching him how rewarding volunteer work can be at an early age. She used to bring him along on her own volunteer work, and he enjoyed giving back.

“I have been so fortunate at such a young age, I feel like giving back is part of my calling,” Jones says.

This year’s event will honor the Jonas brothers, Vanessa Hudgens, “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland, Jordin Sparks, “Vampire Diaries” star Kat Graham and Diego Boneta. They join previous honorees including Justin Bieber and Shailene Woodley.

The cast of Cartoon Network’s “Level Up” will host this year’s event, which will feature a musical perf by Graham.

Each honoree has chosen a philanthropic org to spotlight: Change for the Children Foundation (Jonas brothers); the George Lopez Foundation (Hyland); the Water Project (Graham); Make a Wish (Hudgens); Child Help (Sparks) and the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer & Hematology Clinic (Boneta).

Variety publisher Brian Gott says young stars are carefully vetted to make sure they genuinely embody a philanthropic spirit and serve as a role model for the fans that look up to them.

He’s quick to point out that the event helps charities year round. “We’re so proud of the fact that this isn’t the work of one person or a group. It comes from the whole industry mobilizing behind these young people.”

He says the young stars pay attention when speakers come up to talk about their causes and stories — even when it’s tempting to take advantage of the shortened lines at all the booths.

“People know the event is not really for the honorees, or for the attendees, but for the children of the charities we support. That’s always been the bottom line.”