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From Gun Control Advocacy to Meals on Wheels, How Matthew McConaughey Uses His Platform For Good

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Gun Control Advocacy

Matthew McConaughey speaks at a press briefing in the White House Press Briefing Room

Matthew McConaughey speaks at a press briefing in the White House Press Briefing Room

Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, last May, Matthew McConaughey spoke out in support of more gun safety legislation.

In June, the actor attended a White House press briefing to deliver remarks about the elementary school shooting — which killed 19 students and two teachers on May 24 — and what it means for the future of the nation.

“This should not be a partisan issue,” McConaughey said during his emotional, 21-minute speech. “There is not a Democratic or Republican value in one single act of these shooters, but people in power have failed to act.”

In the weeks following the shooting, he and his wife Camila Alves McConaughey spent several days in Uvalde visiting with victims’ families. They listened to numerous stories about the innocent lives lost, and came to realize that every single family shared a common goal: to make the lives of those lost matter.

“While we honor and acknowledge the victims, we need to recognize that this time, it seems that something is different,” McConaughey said. “There is the sense that perhaps there is a viable path forward [for enacting gun safety legislation].”

The actor spent a considerable amount of time in the D.C. area following the shooting, advocating for gun safety, and met with “over 30 members across both parties,” including “leaders of the Senate, the House,” as well as President Joe Biden.

On June 2, the couple also launched the Just Keep Livin Foundation’s Uvalde Relief Fund

In addition to grief counseling, the fund also supported victims’ families with burial costs and “other immediate and long-term needs of the community.”

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101 Bold Nights

Matthew McConaughey at the "White Boy Rick" Press Conference at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on September 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada.

Matthew McConaughey at the "White Boy Rick" Press Conference at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on September 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada.

Vera Anderson/WireImage

McConaughey, who serves as the creative director for Wild Turkey, helped out with the bourbon brand’s initiative that supports up-and-coming artists, 101 Bold Nights, earlier this year.

In October, he detailed the importance of opening doors for people — just like someone did for him once.

“You can’t really do anything for somebody once they’re in the door, but if you can help open a door and go, ‘The mic is plugged in, you better hit it, better make it happen,’ there’s some things that they’re going to be able to learn from this,” he told PEOPLE.

In collaboration with Wild Turkey and Spaceflight Records, the Dallas Buyers Club actor helped to launch a mentorship program called #101BoldNightsMusicMentorship. Within the program, McConaughey and Spaceflight Records worked to find an emerging musical artist, to whom the record label would offer personalized mentorship.

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Opening Up About Sexual Abuse and Consent

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 29: Matthew McConaughey attends HISTORYTalks Leadership & Legacy presented by HISTORY at Carnegie Hall on February 29, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for HISTORY)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 29: Matthew McConaughey attends HISTORYTalks Leadership & Legacy presented by HISTORY at Carnegie Hall on February 29, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for HISTORY)

Noam Galai/Getty for HISTORY

In McConaughey’s 2020 memoir Greenlights, the actor opened up about the sexual abuse he experienced as a teenager.

In an appearance on the premiere episode of Amanda de Cadenet‘s podcast The Conversation: About the Men in September, McConaughey was asked by de Cadenet about the abuse and how he knew the right way to approach sexual situations as he moved through adolescence.

McConaughey said his parents taught him to be respectful in such situations and credited his father with teaching him about consent.

“[My father is] talking to me as his son, as a male in this situation and speaking to me about a heterosexual relationship,” the actor recalled in a clip from the episode. “He says, ‘If you ever feel the girl, the female, hesitate, stop.’ ”

“Wow, he told you about consent,” de Cadenet said in response.

“He even said this: ‘You may even feel them hesitate and then after you stop, then they go, ‘Oh no, no, c’mon,’ Don’t. Wait until next time,’ ” McConaughey said.

“And he was right. I got in circumstances where I was like, ‘Nah nah nah, okay, I’m out’ and then saying, ‘Okay, cool, I’m out.’ The girl went, ‘Oh, well, no c’mon,’ and I was like, ‘No, no, no,’ ” the actor added. “And he said, ‘Trust you’ll have another day if it’s to be.’ ”

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Mack, Jack & McConaughey Foundation

AUSTIN, TEXAS - APRIL 28: Matthew McConaughey (L) and Camila Alves McConaughey attend the 10th Annual Mack, Jack & McConaughey Gala at ACL Live on April 28, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, TEXAS - APRIL 28: Matthew McConaughey (L) and Camila Alves McConaughey attend the 10th Annual Mack, Jack & McConaughey Gala at ACL Live on April 28, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)

Gary Miller/Getty

In May, McConaughey and his wife celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Mack, Jack & McConaughey Foundation.

The pair hosted their annual fundraising event for the nonprofit that featured music from headliner Kenny Chesney and a fashion show sponsored by Stella McCartney.

Founded by University of North Carolina football coach Mack Brown, country music artist Jack Ingram and McConaughey, the foundation focuses on fundraising for children’s programs through its yearly two-day event.

Since its founding, the organization has raised and donated more than $20 million to multiple charitable organizations dedicated to children’s education, health and wellness.

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Hosting ‘We’re Texas’ for Victims of Winter Storms

WE'RE TEXAS | GIDDY UP TO GIVE BACK

WE'RE TEXAS | GIDDY UP TO GIVE BACK

Matthew McConaughey/Youtube

In 2021, after a series of winter storms hit his home state of Texas, McConaughey stepped up and took action to help those impacted.

“In Texas, we’re used to a hurricane, a tornado, a drought, heat, but not a freeze,” McConaughey told PEOPLE in March 2021. “It’s something we weren’t prepared for.”

Along with Camila and the Just Keep Livin Foundation, which they launched in 2008, McConaughey organized a star-studded virtual benefit, We’re Texas, which aired on March 21 on the actor’s YouTube channel and in Texas on Spectrum News 1.

The event featured stars like Renée Zellweger, Kelly Clarkson and Kacey Musgraves and raised funds for families and vulnerable communities getting back on their feet after the storms.

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A Friend to Animals

Matthew McConaughey is seen walking along the beach and playing ball with his three dogs in Malibu

Matthew McConaughey is seen walking along the beach and playing ball with his three dogs in Malibu

Flynetpictures.com /SplashNews.com

McConaughey and Camila added a few four-legged friends to their family in 2021.

In January 2021, the couple adopted two puppies from the Humane Society just days apart. The first was a 4-month-old rescue and the second was a 2-month-old pup.

“If you thought…what was I thinking with a 4 month old puppy…well how about with another one that’s 2 months old!! 🐶,” the Brazilian supermodel wrote alongside a selfie with one of the dogs.

“Yep, got work cut out for me in the next months!” she added. “3 kids, 2 older dogs , 2 pups, 1 cat and my mother in law😉.”

The McConaughey family has long included furry friends. Pictured is McConaughey walking along the beach with three of his dogs in Malibu, California, in 2010.

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Delivering Masks

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey/Instagram

In May 2020, the Dazed and Confused actor shared a photo of he and his wife in a truck filled with masks to donate to area hospitals during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thanks to @lincoln for donating 110 thousand masks – me and @camilamcconaughey hitting the road to get em to rural hospitals in need across Texas,” he wrote on Instagram.

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Connecting with Seniors During COVID-19

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey

The Enclave at Round Rock Senior Living

In April 2020, as the world was settling into what would become the “new normal” of social distancing and self-isolation due to COVID-19, McConaughey and his family found a way to connect — virtually!

McConaughey and Camila, along with two of their kids and his mom Kay, joined a Zoom call to play Bingo with a few seniors in their home state of Texas.

The Enclave at Round Rock Senior Living posted a video of the call on Facebook, showing the moment McConaughey called out a chip that leads to two potential winners.

“Thank you to Matthew, his wife Camila, and his mom Kay for hosting our residents for a few rounds of virtual bingo!” the facility wrote alongside the video. “Our residents had a great time playing, and they loved talking with Matthew about his family heritage and his favorite drink.”

“We got I-24,” McConaughey read in the video before the whole family started whooping in celebration when one player raised his board. “Richard is waving a hammer up high, we got Charles with the iPad up high. We got two winners!”

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Operation BBQ Relief

Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey Master Distiller Eddie Russell prepare food during Wild Turkey "With Thanks" 2019 with Matthew McConaughey and Operation BBQ Relief

Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey Master Distiller Eddie Russell prepare food during Wild Turkey "With Thanks" 2019 with Matthew McConaughey and Operation BBQ Relief

Rich Polk/Getty Images Wild Turkey

Back in 2019, McConaughey partnered with the disaster relief organization Operation BBQ Relief and Wild Turkey Bourbon to cook, prepare and deliver meals to first responders as multiple wildfires raged across his “second home” of California.

McConaughey kicked off the bourbon brand’s annual “With Thanks” campaign in Los Angeles by making BBQ turkey dinners for firefighters and other first responders battling the flames in southern California, and personally thanking them for their hard work.

The Oscar winner helped put together 800 dinners, which were delivered to more than 20 fire stations. An additional 800 meals were also prepared for local homeless shelters.

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Joining Khalid at 2019 Benefit Concert for El Paso Shooting Victims

Matthew McConaughey speaks onstage during ‘A Night For Suncity' benefit concert with Khalid & Friends at the Don Haskins Center

Matthew McConaughey speaks onstage during ‘A Night For Suncity' benefit concert with Khalid & Friends at the Don Haskins Center

Rick Kern/Getty Images

Following the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019 that left 23 people dead, Khalid put together a benefit concert to raise money for victims’ families.

The concert, called “A Night for Suncity,” was organized by The Great Khalid Foundation and Right Hand Foundation.

According to The Great Khalid Foundation’s website, the event raised $500,000 for the El Paso Community Foundation Victims’ Fund.

McConaughey took the stage at the event and talked about coming together and supporting one another.

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Helping Out on a College Campus

matthew-mccounaghey

matthew-mccounaghey

UT Student Gov’t/Twitter

In addition to his work as an actor and philanthropist, McConaughey is also a college professor!

That’s right, after working as a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin, his alma mater, starting in 2015, in 2019 it was announced that he would be a professor of practice at the University of Texas’ Moody College of Communication in the Department of Radio-Television-Film.

In 2016, McConaughey stepped outside of the classroom and helped out on campus, volunteering his time for a university student-government program called SURE Walk. The program organizes safe ways for students to get home late at night through golf-cart rides and walking partners, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The organization shared an image of McConaughey behind the wheel of one of the golf carts.

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Meals on Wheels

Matthew McConaughey Family - 2

Matthew McConaughey Family - 2

Source: Camila Alves/Instagram

Over the years, McConaughey has helped out with Meals on Wheels on numerous occasions.

Back in 2015, he and his family volunteered their time for the second year in a row, helping to deliver hundreds of meals on Thanksgiving Day, according to Meals on Wheels Central Texas. In 2019, he joined Governor Greg Abbott, who also did some delivering, KXAN reported.

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Hurricane Katrina Relief

Matthew McConaughey joins RELIEF SPARK's effort to send supplies to families affected by Hurricane Katrina

Matthew McConaughey joins RELIEF SPARK's effort to send supplies to families affected by Hurricane Katrina

Alamy Stock Photo

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 the actor hopped on a plane to Baton Rouge to help those impacted by the devastating storm.

The efforts included rescuing “50 dogs, 18 cats and 2 hamsters,” according to Oprah.com, where the actor’s journey was documented.

In addition, McConaughey listed his 1971 Corvette Stingray on eBay, selling it for $61,600 — all of which he donated to Oprah Winfrey‘s Angel Network for Katrina and Rita, another storm that touched down in Texas about a month after Katrina.

The actor also worked with Relief Spark, pictured, at the Van Nuys Airport in California, to organize supplies to be brought to impacted areas.

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Matthew McConaughey People POTY cover

Matthew McConaughey People POTY cover

Brett Costello/Newspix/Headpress/Redux

For more with Matthew McConaughey and PEOPLE’s People of the Year, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.