Before Miley moved to Hollywood and became a celebrity, her mom made one thing clear: “I said, ‘Honey, if you’re going to do this, it would really make sense to use it to bring awareness to kids your age that you really can help,’ ” says Tish.
Lesson learned, Mom. While on tour, Miley visited children’s hospitals all over the U.S. and worked closely with charities such as City of Hope. “I feel like it’s too easy just to give money, you know?” says Miley, who also visited—for American Idol‘s Idol Gives Back special—a poor community in Kentucky that benefits from Save the Children’s literacy programs. “Miley chatted with the kids about what books they like. She had no airs about her,” says Mark Shriver, VP and managing director of U.S. programs for STC. “I fall in love with all these kids,” says Miley.
During a recent hospital visit, Miley was attempting to spread some love, but one kid was playing really hard to get. “This little boy was like, ‘I think you’re beautiful,’ ” recalls Miley. “I’m like, ‘Aw, thank you! You can be my boyfriend if you want.’ He goes, ‘Okay, but you’re No. 49.’ I said, ‘What?’ He goes, ‘Jennifer Aniston is No. 1.’ So can I be No. 2? ‘No, Hilary Duff is No. 2.’ Dude, do I have to be No. 49? He’s like, ‘All right, 47, okay?’ I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ ”