By William Keck

Though Oprah, Angelina and Bono get oodles of media attention, other celebrities are always out there trying to use their fame for good. Three shared personal stories from recent charitable journeys with USA TODAY’s William Keck:

Isaiah Washington, 43

Former Grey’s Anatomy star, currently shooting five episodes of NBC’s new drama The Bionic Woman, premiering Sept. 26.

Mission: His Gondobay Manga Foundation is building a school in the Njala Kendema village in Sierra Leone; 350 students are to start there this September.

Why this cause: After discovering his genetic link to Sierra Leone, he made two trips to the war-torn country and realized the need.

On safety: “I feel safer in Sierra Leone than I do in L.A., because they’re my people and they’re not trying to hurt you. If anything, they’re maybe going to try to get money out of you to survive.”

On personal ties: “There is one boy, about 8 years old, who I fell in love with. But I’m not interested in stripping him of his culture. My wife and I have three kids already, but we have talked about (adoption), and we’re not ruling it out.”

Personal benefits: “This is the thing that kept me sane. While all the negative was happening (on former series Grey’s Anatomy), I had all this support over there. When I get to the point when I’m very frustrated, I go to my website to check e-mails from all over the world who want to help out.”

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