Morgan Freeman’s distinctive voice stands out among thousands of others. From Shawshank Redemption to Batman Begins, his talented acting ability can be seen in dozens of films, but there’s one that’s special to me that you can’t see him in. In the English version of the Oscar-winning March of the Penguins, Morgan’s authoritative and empathic voice narrates the story of this heartwarming and inspiring documentary. For another visual dose of environmental empowerment, check out the website for Earth Communications Office (ECO). Freeman–along with Gene Hackman, Patrick Stewart, and others–narrate short video messages, seen in over 100 countries by over a billion people annually, in an effort to bring awareness to environmental concerns.

Freeman also uses his voice to help provide relief for disaster victims. After hurricanes wrecked Grenada in 2004, he created the Grenada Relief Fund to help publicize the terrifying disaster and bring attention to the destruction storms can bring to communities all over the world. In 2007 the fund was renamed PLAN!T NOW, and Freeman continues to work hard to improve disaster relief efforts. Along with helping small businesses and communities rebuild after disasters and providing scholarships for students in hurricane-affected areas, the foundation’s new goal is educating the masses about being prepared for disasters. Through the fund, communities are gaining the tools they need to save lives and reduce destruction. After all, you can’t prevent a hurricane, but you can build walls, reinforce buildings, and do everything else in your power to prepare before something happens.

PLAN!T NOW and Freeman recently teamed up with the Sierra Club to create a public service announcement to raise awareness about being prepared for storm-related disasters.  You can support this cause by donating to the foundation. Or, if you love to cook like me, purchase his cookbook Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking For A Cause. Freeman, along with Katie Couric, Michael Douglas, Hillary Swank, and more than a dozen others contribute their favorite Caribbean-inspired recipes to raise money.

Another one of Freeman’s projects is Earth Biofuels, an alternative energy company that produces and distributes biodiesel. Freeman sits on the board of directors and is a spokesperson for the eco-friendly company, which uses vegetable oils in place of traditional diesel fuel to improve the environment and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.  Beyond his environmental causes, he also supports Artists For A New South Africa (ANSA), a nonprofit organization helping to promote democracy and combat AIDS in South Africa. Also an animal lover, Freeman supports the Mississippi Animal Rescue League and donated money to create the Morgan Freeman Equine Reproduction Research Unit at the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine.