Celebrity Dish: Jane Kaczmarek

Filed under: Just For Moms, Holidays, Celeb Parents, In The News, That's Entertainment

She made a name for herself as Lois on TV's "Malcom in the Middle," but now Jane Kaczmarek uses her name to help other people. As the founder of Clothes Off Our Backs, Jane encourages celebrities to donate clothes and goods to auction in order to help children's charities.

The mom of three was gracious to give Parent Dish a call in the early afternoon, just after finishing her lunch.

"I couldn't stand seeing all the waste that happened in Hollywood," said Jane in regards to starting a charity. "All these clothes, shoes, purses that people wear. It gets photographed on the red carpet and it never gets worn again. I was starting to work with a lot of children's charities and thought 'Gee, wouldn't this be a great way to raise money for children's charities?'"

Jane and her husband, Bradley Whitford, started calling celebrity friends and Clothes Off Our Back was created. The organization is a nonprofit and the proceeds all go to groups that help with children's issues, such as Cure Autism Now or the Children's Defense Fund.

Jane, who lives in Pasadena, California, likes to point out at how far a dollar can go to help a child. She refers to the dress Jennifer Aniston auctioned in 2002 that sold for $50,000. That money was used to immunize 50,000 children in Africa.

"I went to a Dodger's game the other night," said Jane, who drives a Honda Civic and whose children share a room. "Beers are ten dollars. Everyone was buying them. I thought 'man, people can afford ten dollars for a beer? Do you know what kind of food that could buy for people in Darfur?' It's amazing what people will spend money on in America."

The charity doesn't end when she leaves her office, however. She and Bradley's three children have also gotten in on the act, thanks in part to being raised outside of the typical Los Angeles celebrity hubbub. Instead of the traditional birthday parties with gifts, the birthday child chooses a charity, which attendees are encouraged to make checks out to.

"You can't believe how much you can raise at a birthday party," she said. "Smile Train does cleft palette repairs for children in the developing world. $250 changes a kid's face, which gives them a life."

She encourages parents to introduce children to a variety of ways to help others. From visiting an eldery neighbor or reading a book at a school to donating allowance money to organizations such as Heifer International, there are many ways to help.

"You can buy livestock for people around the world," she said. "Goats, bees, bunnies; I used to get a water buffalo every year from FOX for Christmas when I did 'Malcom in the Middle.' I always said I was the only actress in Hollywood that got livestock as a Christmas present."

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