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The television host also announced she would let one lucky fan the chance to host an episode of her show if they donate as well

By Claudia Harmata
April 15, 2020 02:11 PM
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People's Choice Awards 2017 - Press Room
Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are the latest celebrities to do their part in helping those in need due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

During a sneak peek of an at-home episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, set to air on Friday, the host announced that she and her wife are donating $1 million to the All-In Challenge, an initiative that aims to raise $100 million for non-profit organizations supporting vulnerable communities amid the coronavirus crisis.

A few of the organizations taking part in the initiative include Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, America’s Food Fund, Feeding America and World Central Kitchen.

DeGeneres and de Rossi were inspired to donate to the campaign after being nominated to do so by Leonardo DiCaprio and his Killers of the Flower Moon co-star Robert De Niro.

“There are just some things that we can’t ignore, and just when I thought I couldn’t love him more, listen to what my friend Leo DiCaprio is doing,” DeGeneres said on her show. “He started something called the All-In Challenge. He’s trying to raise $100 million for a bunch of different charities who are helping feed Americans during this crisis.”

“I like a challenge, which is why I tried to put jeans on today,” she jokingly added.

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Ellen DeGeneres and actress Portia de Rossi
| Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The People's Choice Awards

The host then announced that in addition to donating $1 million herself, she would be granting one lucky fan who donates at least $25 to the challenge the chance to co-host the show with her.

“You’ll spend the day at the studio, learn how we produce it,” DeGeneres said. “You’ll get to me next to me when I do the monologue, help me interview some amazing A-list celebrities. And finally, Andy will drive you home.”

DeGeneres then nominated her friends Justin Timberlake and Laura Dern to join the initiative, “because I love them and I know they would want to help.”

“I have been so devastated by seeing all the people lined up waiting for food,” DeGeneres said of her decision to donate $1 million. “Every time I see those cars and those people, I cry. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be sitting for hours and hours, waiting to get food and hoping there’s going to even be any left by the time you get there.”

“It’s heartbreaking and it’s overwhelming,” she added. “I’ve already given to some of my favorite charities, including Direct Relief, because so many people need money. But today, Portia and I are personally donating $1 million Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry and America’s Food Fund.”

“I usually don’t talk about my personal donations, it’s something I keep private, but I’m really hoping that this inspires anyone who’s in a position to help, to help. Because there’s a lot of need out there,” DeGeneres concluded.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. has seen 606,800 cases and 25,922 deaths attributed to coronavirus, while New York is the heaviest hit state with 202,208 cases and 10,834 deaths, according to the New York Times.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.