Natalie Portman Kicks Off Children’s Hospital's 5th Annual Make March Matter Campaign

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Natalie Portman (left) and Danielle Fishel Karp

Also on hand to pledge their support were actresses Danielle Fishel Karp and Alex Meneses.

Natalie Portman made a stop at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on Monday morning to help kick off its 5th annual Make March Matter campaign.

As a “frequent visitor and longtime supporter of CHLA,” according to senior vp and chief development officer Alex Carter, Portman expressed gratitude toward everyone participating in the campaign and shared her experiences volunteering at and bringing her children to the hospital.

“Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a very special place to me,” said the actres. “I live very nearby, so this is really part of my community.”

Portman said she volunteered at CHLA for years before she had children, which allowed her to experience “the energy and love they gave to supporting not just the patients but also the families.”

“Now, as a mother of two young children, I end up here a lot for stitches regularly,” she joked, “and I’m so grateful to all of the kindness of every single person who works here.”

Make March Matter aims to raise $2 million over the month. The amount will go toward CHLA’s Children’s Fund, which finances care for children regardless of financial status. 

“We’re the safety-net provider,” said CHLA president and CEO Paul Viviano. “We turn no child away, ever, based upon their financial class or status. We don’t mean today in our emergency room. We will care for you until you are 18, no questions asked. We care for all.”

To kick off the campaign, Portman was joined by several CHLA patients who have received critical, lifesaving care including heart transplants and cancer treatment. After speaking to the crowd, she was quick to kneel down and direct her attention to the little ones.

Also on hand to give hugs and high fives, and pledge their support, were fellow actresses Danielle Fishel Karp and Alex Meneses. Meneses serves on the board of trustees for CHLA, and Fishel Karp is a patient parent who spent weeks in the NICU at CHLA last year with her son, Adler.

Meneses said she’s worked with CHLA for over 20 years, since she visited while filming an episode of The Brothers Garcia. “I remember in those 24 hours not hearing kids scream and cry, and I thought, ‘They’re doing something right here,’” she told The Hollywood Reporter.

Fishel Karp shared a similar sentiment about the atmosphere at the hospital. “We were terrified, overwhelmed, and utterly exhausted,” she said of arriving at CHLA last July just days after her son was born, “but from the moment we arrived, we knew we were in good hands.”

The Girl Meets World actress connected with other patient families after the event. She told THR that each family that has spent time in the hospital with their child shares a special bond.

“It’s a club you never want to join, but once you’re in it, you realize the connections you have with other parents are so deep and from such a profound place,” said Fishel Karp. “[My husband] Jensen and I talk about it all the time. We feel like we left a part of us here in the NICU, and that part is the part that’s connected to all the other parents that were here with us at the same time.”

Make March Matter has the help of over 100 businesses to reach its $2 million goal. Panda Express, a corporate sponsor, pledged Monday to help raise $500,000. Events from sponsors will take place all month long. See the calendar here