The couple unveil a donation program to help disadvantaged children

By Nicholas White and Lisa Ingrassia
Updated September 15, 2008 01:20 PM
Credit: Jesse Grant/WireImage

Giving is taking a new form, courtesy of the parents to Harlow Richie-Madden.

Nicole Richie and Joel Madden announced Monday a text-messaging effort with MySpace to benefit their Richie-Madden Children’s Foundation.

“There are so many children here who need a place to play. We’re excited to help them,” Richie sat at an ice cream social to raise awareness in downtown Los Angeles Monday.

The first goal of the “Text CHILD to 90999” campaign? To build a playground for the children at a downtown Los Angeles housing project, which helps low-income families out of homelessness. The building, which is home to 175 children (many of whom were eating melted Marble Slab Creamery ice cream cups in the courtyard), has no recreational facilities.

“We think there should be a playground on the concrete slab you’re sitting on,” Madden said to the crowd. “It’s bigger than building a playground, but this is an exciting start. And I’ll come play on it.”

The couple also took to their Web site to urge participation. “We hope our support will shine a spotlight on important issues facing children and will inspire and educate the public, especially young people, to get involved, too. We want to do more than write checks.”

The program aims to benefit low-income families, build playgrounds, offer medical services, and give baby products to mothers. Foundation partners include the Los Angeles Free Clinic, UNICEF and Children’s Health Fund.

The Richie-Madden Children’s Foundation, founded in 2007, has Richie’s mother, Brenda, on its board of directors. The San Francisco-based Tides Foundation is listed as the charity’s fiscal supporter.