Paul Newman

paul newman
IMG: John Powell via Flickr

Many people knew about Paul Newman’s acting career in roles such as “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,”  “Cool Hand Luke,” and many others.  However, he became very involved in working for change through participation in politics and charity.  It took him some time to figure out how to help, but he eventually struck on a successful venture.

He and his friend, author A.E. Hotchner, began making a salad dressing for their friends.  It became so popular that they decided to sell it commercially.  They eat pitched in $20,000 and in 1982, they started the company called Newman’s Own.

The idea behind it was that all the proceeds would go to charities of Newman’s choosing, from education to charitable organizations.

“My profits will be divided between a number of tax-deductible charities and causes, some church-related, others for conservation and ecology and things like that,” said Newman in 1982.

They pair soon started selling other products such as frozen pizza, iced tea, lemonade, limeade, popcorn and several other foods.  They even branched out into dog and cat food.  The company became known as a trusted brand with good quality and delicious food and drinks.  It went on to make millions of dollars.

Six years later, Newman decided to put some of the profit from Newman’s Own into the creation of a summer camp for children with serious illnesses.  He called it The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.  It opened in Connecticut and offered common camp experiences such as fishing, tie-dye, ghost stories, s’mores and the like.  What was unusual was that Newman often visited and ate lunch with unsuspecting campers.

“I wanted, I think, to acknowledge luck: the chance of it, the benevolence of it in my life, and the brutality of it in the lives of others; made especially savage for children because they may not be allowed the good fortune of a lifetime to correct it,” said Newman about the camp.

Many years later, in 2005, Newman created the Newman’s Own Foundation, an independent, private foundation to sustain the legacy of his philanthropic work.  The organization is funded by the profits and royalties of Newman’s Own products.

“The Foundation does not maintain an endowment, raise funds, or accept donations. The Foundation believes that each of us, through the power of philanthropy, has the potential to make a difference. Since 1982, when Paul Newman first declared, “Let’s give it all away,” more than $370 million has been donated to thousands of nonprofit organizations helping people in need around the world,” according to the website.

Newman passed away in 2008 from lung cancer, but his work lives on.

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