Mel Gibson has been quietly donating to a project to help Holocaust survivors.
"He's helped many, many people, especially Holocaust survivors," said film and television director Zane Buzby, founder of the Survivor Mitzvah Project. Buzby, who is scheduled to hold a lecture and film screening in Wilmington on Sunday at the Siegel Jewish Community Center, reached out to Gibson a few years ago after reading a piece posing the question "Isn't it time to forgive Mel Gibson?"
"The article was written by a reporter who had written a couple of scathing articles about Mel Gibson many years ago... ," she recalled during a recent phone interview. "It turns out [the reporter] met with [Gibson] and in the last 10 years he has gotten clean and sober," added Buzby, who has directed episodes of Golden Girls, Newhart, and Married … With Children. "He apologized to the people that he hurt. He did all of the right things that you do when you make a mistake."
Buzby decided to ask Gibson to join her crusade of assisting elderly Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe. Many are desperately in need of food, heat, and other basic necessities. "It took a while because he was off filming a movie and I was in Eastern Europe finding survivors, but we finally sat down in the office about 2½ years ago and he was very compelled to help," she said. "And that was the beginning. "I said, 'Can I publicize this?' and he said no." He was afraid that his association with the project would hurt it.
The organization to which Gibson has been donating is the California-based Survivor Mitzvah Project (SMP), which is "dedicated to providing direct and continuous financial aid to those elderly and forgotten Jewish Holocaust Survivors scattered throughout Eastern Europe who are sick, impoverished, isolated and receive no direct financial aid from any other agency."
In referring to Gibson's troubled past, SMP founder, Zane Buzby told reporters: "I have a great respect for people who turn their lives around, and I think that everyone makes mistakes in life, and I think the real proof of what kind of human being you are is what you do with that mistake."
"I have a great respect for people who turn their lives around," she added. "And I think that everyone makes mistakes in life, and I think the real proof of what kind of human being you are is what you do with that mistake. He’s educated himself. He’s done philanthropic work now, and I think that actions speak very loudly… and his actions have helped a lot of people."
"He's educated himself. He's done philanthropic work now, and I think that actions speak very loudly… and his actions have helped a lot of people."
The Hacksaw Ridge director has also been helping to raise funds for the charity, and purposefully doesn’t promote his philanthropy.
"He has been to the office and personally learned about the mission and the people helped on an ongoing basis," a source told People. "He's also helped raise additional funds by getting others involved. Mel feels great compassion for what this organization does. And he doesn’t publicly promote most of his philanthropy but quietly helps out."