The 23rd annual Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation's "A Time For Heroes" celebrity picnic was a fun, star-studded afternoon of food, music, crafts, fun, games and freebies (including eco-friendly products from The Honest Company) that helped raise funds and awareness for global HIV/AIDS via amothersfight.org.
"For a dollar a day you can prevent a mother from passing AIDS to her child. It's all about the future generation," said Shailene Woodley, who applied her artistic skills at a mural-painting booth. "I love this event because there are so many fun things to do and I can connect to kids on a human level. It's super casual and fun to interact that way." The star of "The Descendants" and "Secret Life of the American Teenager" is looking forward to a summer vacation. "I go house boating every year with my family," she said.
"Pediatric AIDS is very important to me because I've been the campaign chairman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research for 17 years," said Sharon Stone, who is also serious about green living. "We have solar panels on our house. We buy mostly organic because there are so many chemicals on things coming into the country, and we use a lot of green products, though some of them are good and some aren't good and don't clean well enough. Some of the light bulbs don't give enough light. It's working out which ones are functional." Among her upcoming projects is the dramedy "Gods Behaving Badly," a movie with Edie Falco, Oliver Platt, John Turturro and Christopher Walken as modern-day Olympians (Stone plays Aphrodite), and the political drama "The Mule" with Billy Zane about "what it's like to be an immigrant trying to get over the border." Since a movie she was supposed to do this summer was shifted to September, she's hoping to get in a vacation. "We're talking about Croatia," she said.
A big supporter of children's charities, Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Leinert has become more acutely aware of causes like this since he became a father nearly six years ago. "We're so fortunate that he's healthy," he said, noting that children's health issues "mean more when you have a child of your own." As an athlete perpetually aware of what he eats, "I try to teach my son what's healthy for the environment and your body. We recycle and surround him with green [products]. We do the best we can."
Also a dad, but much more recently — his son is 7 months old — Thomas Ian Nicholas similarly has acquired "a new mindset when it comes to kids. I like to do everything I can, especially something like this. Pediatric AIDS is preventable. We've already done it in the U.S., so why not help kids in the rest of the world?" At home, "We use a lot of natural products. My wife has led me in that direction in terms of being more aware. She has a lot of allergies, so it makes sense to be fragrance- and chemical-free." The "American Reunion" star next plays Abbie Hoffman in "The Chicago 8," due out later this year. "It's the second time I've gotten to portray a real individual," noted Nicholas, who portrayed Frank Sinatra Jr. in the TV film "Stealing Sinatra." "Abbie is a much crazier character. Kind of got into my head a little bit," he confided. "I read every book he wrote. I think he's kind of a part of me now."
Holding his 2.5-year-old daughter Kylie, Mark Deklin echoed the sentiment that "you see the world through a whole different lens when you're a parent," which is why he wanted to come out to support the child-oriented charity. A former Greenpeace volunteer and "militant environmentalist," he described himself as less so these days but still careful to recycle and teach Kylie about caring for the planet. "We take her on whale watches, we read books like 'That's Not Trash' and 'The Earth Book,'" he noted. He had a blast doing the short-lived ABC series "GCB" and would love to do another, but in the meantime will play Lord Greystoke, the adventurer-father of the title character in a new 3-D motion capture version of "Tarzan," starring Kellan Lutz in the title role. He'll also take his family on a summer trip to visit family in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida with a stop in New York. "We lived there for 12 years," he noted.
"I heard about the statistics about babies born with HIV/AIDS and it broke my heart," said Yvette Nicole Brown, noting the 1,000 children who die every day unnecessarily. On summer hiatus from her sitcom "Community," she's continuing to do voiceovers for the animated series "Pound Puppies" and just shot the sequel to the movie "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." She recently went home to her native Cleveland to speak at a special assembly at her high school. "I was so honored. It was a dream of mine." She carries a reusable water bottle with her wherever she goes. "I fill it from water from my refrigerator every morning."
"We put in solar panels that are heating the pool. It saves money and it's good all around. I take my own shopping bags and recycle, all the little things we can do around the house," said Daisy Fuentes. She's in development with a few TV projects and has expanded her line for Kohl's department stores to include bedding. "It's young and exciting fabrics, very affordable," she said.
"This is a preventable epidemic we can stop for a dollar a day. I spend more at Starbucks," said Mehcad Brooks about pediatric AIDS. His concern goes hand in hand with his eco-interest. "I'm feeling a lot more connected to nature and the universe and I'm treating everything a lot better because I feel like it's an extension of myself. I pick up a little after people and making sure they're recycling. I'm being annoying about it actually, but I don't care. It's important. It's bigger than you and me and this generation. The purpose of humanity is to ensure the success of our species and we can't do that by destroying the planet on which we live."
Brooks' USA series "Necessary Roughness," which has its second season premiere June 6, opens with his character Terrence King in the hospital following a near-fatal shooting. "He dies for about eight seconds. It makes him a little more Zen. But he's also dealing with PTSD so he goes through different emotions," he noted, though King's swagger and playboy personality remain intact. The changes are fun to play, "But it's a big responsibility because a lot of people are going through that. It's a very serious subject that the public needs to be aware of."
Since finding out that she had high cholesterol, Carmen Electra has been on a vegetarian diet. "It's a trial basis. I've been trying to cut meat out. We'll see how long it lasts," she said, noting that she'll be a contestant later this season on Fox's new dating game show, "The Choice," which premieres June 7.
"Switched at Birth" star Katie LeClerc has also turned vegetarian. "I watched this documentary 'Get Vegucated' and it inspired me," she said, noting that she has happily discovered meat substitutes like Gardein. "You wouldn't know the difference," she said. Now shooting fall episodes of her ABC Family drama, in which she'll develop a crush on an older guy (Justin Bruening), LeClerc recently filmed "Confessions," a Hallmark movie sequel to "The Shunning" in which she plays a young Amish woman who has left the community and is now searching for her birth mother. This summer she'll shoot the sci-fi action drama "Mesmerized," playing "a girl whose destiny it is to save the universe. It's going to be a lot of fun. We're shooting in Big Bear."
"It's such a great cause," said Trevor Donovan ("90210"), who has attended the event for the past few years. "It's something preventable that we have treatment for — we just need to get the information out there." An avid surfer, he's also a supporter of the Waterkeeper Alliance. "I grew up in the mountains at a ski resort, so Mother Nature is very important to me," he added.
"Charities like this, for kids, are really close to my heart," said Cassie Scerbo, who's starting her own foundation to raise money for causes she believes in. Now enrolled in college courses at Southern New Hampshire University, she recently switched her major to environmental issues after taking a class in the subject and loving it. "One of our class projects was about making the world a greener place," she noted, so she wrote a letter to the studio chief about making more recycling bins available on the "Make it or Break It" set, which was implemented. She has wrapped filming the series' fourth and final season, an end she called "bittersweet. I've grown up on the show," she said, noting that the finale provides "closure in every situation."
She's now "getting into music — pop with a rock edge, because I have a raspy voice." She just finished a film in Alabama called "Take a Chance," a martial-arts drama, and plans to visit family in Florida this summer.
Photos: Getty for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation