'Participate': Networks Push Volunteerism In Shows, PSAs

In one of the bigger public service TV campaigns in recent times, more than 60 national TV programs will focus on volunteering starting this week.

Pushed by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the campaign "I Participate" will have standard PSA spots in addition to many shows that feature themed content written into story lines.

On NBC's "30 Rock," Kenneth, the page, volunteers at an animal shelter and ends up adopting many dogs. NBC's "The Biggest Loser" will have segments that feature its participants involved in volunteering. "The Office" and "Heroes" will allude to volunteering in upcoming episodes.

CBS' "Gary Unmarried" will have a story line in which a video of support is sent to a character on the show and to U.S. troops overseas. Other net shows participating include "Criminal Minds," "CSI: Miami" and "Ghost Whisperer."

Many shows will also feature PSAs from their TV shows' stars, or have end-of-episode messages encouraging viewers to volunteer. Fox stars from shows such as "Bones," "Fringe" and "So You Think You Can Dance" (executive producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe) will be featured.

Participating shows at ABC include "Desperate Housewives," "Dancing With the Stars," "FlashForward," "Grey's Anatomy," "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Modern Family," "Ugly Betty" and its daytime soap operas.

This activity dovetails with the Obama Administration's push to make volunteerism a hallmark of its advocacy work.

Last year, the Entertainment Industry Foundation was behind a "Stand Up to Cancer" campaign, which ABC, NBC and CBS aired as a commercial-free special.

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