Misha Collins isn’t an angel, but he plays one on TV. For the last two seasons, he’s played Castiel, an angel sent down to Earth to help the Winchester brothers in their fight to stop the apocalypse on the CW series Supernatural. When he steps out from in front of the cameras Misha becomes a different kind of angel – the kind that gives his time, money and creativity to help those in need.
Now, we know that lots of celebs give to charity, but what’s particularly interesting about Misha’s quest is the way he has rallied his “minions,” aka, the fans of Supernatural. What started out as a joke on Twitter has grown into a true non-profit organization that has already built orphanages in Haiti and blessed many more people with random acts of kindness. Even Misha admits, he never saw it coming.
“I knew that there were a lot of intelligent, creative people with a lot of resources following me on Twitter just based on the responses that I got and websites that they would set up, the projects they would undertake. I mean, there was a lot of kind of enthusiasm and creative energy and so I knew I wanted to kind of play with that in some way and I had no idea how it was going to play out. I’m actually shocked that Random Acts has taken on such a coherent level of organization and structure, and it’s so official. We’re actually a proper 501, fee-free, non-profit, tax exempt organization and all that. It actually is quite an inspiration to me and far more than I expected to have happen in such a short period of time.”
They say that something good always comes out of something bad, and that was the case with the earthquake in Haiti. After it happened, Misha reached out to his fans on Twitter and asked them to donate to the cause. They raised $30,000 dollars which they used to help house and care for some of the more than 380,000 orphans in Haiti.
“I spent some time in Haiti and I know that it’s a place that is really, really, bad off. I have been in a lot of countries around the world, and from an economic standpoint, I’ve never seen the destitution that I’ve seen in Haiti anywhere else. And we also happen to have contacts with people who run these three orphanages there so it seemed like a good fit to keep on supporting them.”
But disasters continue to happen around the world, and so Misha and his crew have moved on to raising money to aide Pakistan.
Going The Distance
“I’m running to raise money. Its kind of old fashioned, collecting pledges. I’ve always liked the whole [idea]. I don’t like the dynamic aspect of not knowing quite how far I’m going to make it. It sort of puts a little more pressure on me to keep on hauling ass out there, so yeah I’m going to be doing a run on Sunday [September] fifth and I’m going to go as far as I can. I’m capping it at a measly 100 km so, I mean, I may keep running after that, knowing me I’ll probably do you know 200-250 km something like that but … umm that’s a lie. I’ve never run anywhere near [this distance]. I’ve run marathons and that’s it, so we’ll see how far I make it.”
We have no doubt that Misha will make it to the end of the race because he’s a guy who can’t stand to let a challenge lie there unaccepted. He made it to The White House as an intern and now he’s co-starring on a hit TV series. You wouldn’t know it to look at him but, as a child, Misha Collins was homeless.
“I have an amazing mother, but when I was growing up she didn’t always have a tremendous amount of material resources at her disposal. We were on welfare and very poor for some time and we were homeless for a while. When I was eleven, we were taken in by [friends who let us live on their] farm for several months. They were unbelievably generous with us. They gave us essentially room and board for months because they knew we didn’t have a place to go, and they enabled us to feel like we weren’t a burden there, by allowing me to work on the farm and to earn my keep. Of course at eleven, I was completely useless and probably more in the way than anything, but it was just like an extension of their kind act to allow me to think that I wasn’t a burden there, and so I would go out in the field and transplant leeks and rake hay into rows and things like that. It’s something that has stuck with me and there are other incidences in my childhood that have stuck with me, you know, a woman that gave my mother $100 when I was six so that she could buy me and my brother Christmas presents that year. I didn’t even know who she was, it was just this really generous act that made a huge difference in these small children’s’ lives and to my mother as well.”
“Thirty years later I still remember that, and it still impacts on how I behave, not always . . . (laughs), but when it comes to my mind it affects how I behave and I think that that is kind of what I am getting at. It can be infectious and exponential. I mean, I probably wouldn’t be trying to do this random acts project if somebody hadn’t demonstrated that kind of kindness to me when I was young and likewise people who receive, who are the recipients of the random acts that we do now, will probably carry on that tradition later.”
The Random Acts program is something that’s just getting rolling for Misha and his minions, so it isn’t as well organized as some of their earlier efforts.
We’re All In This Together
“Anybody who wants to be involved can be involved in the process of identifying recipients of random acts of kindness from our organization, so it’s very much a collective process. People wrote in suggestions and then we collectively made a decision on which ones to enact, and you know what we’ve done so far was very hasty and very poorly funded, it was just from money that I took out of my pocket. But moving forward I think that we will have a little bit more time and a little bit more resources at our disposal and it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves.”
In wrapping up my call with Misha Collins, I mentioned that we have a section on GlobalShift called ‘One Person, Big Difference.’ What do you think of that philosophy, I asked.
“Oh I don’t think one person can do anything, really. . . no, I’m just kidding, wouldn’t that be an awful answer? Yes! I can actually say that’s a big part of why I wanted to do random acts in particular, because I happen to very strongly agree with that idea that one person can make a big difference. I think that kindness and generosity are infectious qualities, that when you carry them out, you often inspire others to do the same, and that one small act can actually have an exponential effect. And this isn’t something that’s just the purview of statesmen and religious leaders. I think that it really can happen in very small and everyday ways, and still have a big impact.”
If you would like to pledge money for Misha’s run or get involved in his Random Acts program, visit the website at http://www.therandomact.org.
Photo: Misha Collins as Castiel in SUPERNATURAL on The CW. Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW ©2009 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.