(LOS ANGELES) — Marlo Thomas inspired so many women to be strong and independent in the 1960s series That Girl.
Now, Thomas is using her star power to inspire holiday shoppers to take a second to help out.
In the latest St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s commercial, Thomas brought Sophia Vergara, Robin Williams and Jennifer Aniston to the Thanksgiving table.
“A woman came over to me and she handed me a letter. And she said, ‘Would you give this to Jennifer Aniston? I want you to know that she saved my daughter’s life.’ She went to her doctor and said, ‘I want an MRI for my child. I think I have this disease that Jennifer Aniston was talking about,’” Thomas said.
Thomas came up with “Thanks and Giving,” a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital holiday campaign now in its 10th year. The campaign raises money for kids fighting childhood cancer and allows people to donate an extra dollar or two while holiday shopping at some of America’s biggest retailers. Since it began, it has raised $380 million.
“People really want to do something good. You just have to show them where it is,” Thomas said.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was founded by Thomas’ famous father, comedian Danny Thomas, with a big promise.
“No child would ever have to pay. That we would take care of the child completely, and the family, and that we would immediately share our discoveries with the scientific and the medical community worldwide,” she said.
It’s a free nonsectarian hospital for children of all races and creeds so that every kid will have a fair chance.
Opening this hospital was a bold move, but bold is in the Thomas DNA. Thomas’ mom was a gifted singer and her dad was a gifted entertainer. Marlo Thomas made her own flash in the hit ’60′s sitcom That Girl, becoming the first single working woman ever on television.
“It was a very exciting thing to do. You’re talking about 1966, and That Girl was part of the wave of the women;s movement,” Thomas said.
It’s a wave that Thomas continues to ride. She is now starring in a play called Clever Little Lies and hosts a weekly web interview show called Mondays With Marlo.
“My father says there’s two kinds of people in the world — the givers and the takers,” she said. “The takers sometimes eat better but the givers always sleep better.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio