The New York Observer Celebrates Young Philanthropists at the Dream Hotel

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Lydia Hearst (Photo: Grayson Dantzic).
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And the Trumps weren’t the only philanthropy family making the rounds. Gorgeous cousins Amanda and Lydia Hearst—both on our top 20 under 40 list—were in attendance representing their respective charities.

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Amanda Hearst started her charity, Friends of Finn, after purchasing her dog Finn from a pet store and discovering he came from a puppy mill. “We’ve gone on puppy mill raids and done more serious stuff but it’s also just been great to interact with the animals,” explained Ms. Hearst. Does Ms. Hearst carry him around in her purse, as is the fashion of another heiress who shall not be named? Ms. Hearst demurred. “He’s kind of chubby so he’d be like a weight on my shoulder,” she laughed.

We spoke with Lydia Hearst-Shaw about her work with Operation Smile, a worldwide charity that treats children with cleft palates and other facial deformities. “For every birthday I no longer accept gifts, I ask my friends to make a donation to Operation Smile,” explained Ms. Hearst, who has gone on three medical missions and helped launch the global offices in Sweden and Toronto. “When you actually go out in the world and realize you can make a difference, it’s a life altering experience,” she added.

We couldn’t help but recognize Lydia Hearst’s date, Kevin Connolly, and we had to stop ourselves from addressing him as “E” after his character on Entourage. But Mr. Connolly assured us that he has left Turtle and the gang well behind. His new hockey documentary, Big Shot, is premiering at ESPN Tribeca tomorrow. “I came here for Lydia’s thing tonight and tomorrow we’ll go to that,” he said with a laugh. “I have two suits.”

About an hour later we spotted Mr. Connolly’s former girlfriend, Nicky Hilton, and her new beau James Rothschild canoodling in the VIP table.  Hopefully the charitable spirit of the evening mitigated any awkward run-ins.

Jesse Cole, CEO of Haute Hippie, made our top 20 list for his work with Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing for children with cancer and their families while they receive treatment in New York City. There Mr. Cole spearheaded the formation of a new board of young philanthropists. Board members are required not only to give or get $10,000, but also to tour the house and interact with children and families. “I didn’t want it to be all about money. Mostly I wanted people to humanize their experience by meeting families and seeing the establishment,” Mr. Cole told us. “In my opinion it’s very easy to get people to join a worthy cause. But it’s not so easy to get people to do God’s work day in and day out.”

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