BECK SMITH - HOLLYWOOD EXCLUSIVE
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HANSON
AS REAL AS IT GETS: Seeing the ravages of AIDS first hand in South Africa, while recording the single "The Great Divide," was "both sobering and inspiring," says Hanson member Taylor Hanson. "The whole experience was life-changing for me. "It's easy when you see the percentages of people that have a disease to examine it in a Petri dish kind of way. But when you put your hand on the shoulders of a child that is terminally ill, and you see these doctors who are really looking for a solution without being downtrodden and discouraged ... it motivates anyone to say, `Why can't we use what we have?' "

Consequently, all proceeds from "The Great Divide" off of Hanson's latest CD, "The Walk," are going to the Perinatal HIV Unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa.

Hanson will lead a one-mile symbolic "Walk" to Sunset Boulevard and then perform after a news conference in front of West Hollywood City Hall starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday (Oct. 31), detailing the group's partnership with TOMS Shoes (which is donating a pair of shoes for every pair sold to a needy child) and the City of West Hollywood's Global AIDS Initiative to help fight poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa.

"We've got to move past awareness toward really focusing on individual action," declares the 24-year-old. "As a member of this generation, I feel like it is the new paradigm to redefine charity. The word 'charity' carries with it a sense of `Here's what the affluent do,' but we can all begin to do simple things. Being a little over-marketed makes you a little pessimistic about causes and things, so we're just going direct, and I think that speaks specifically to people of our age group. If you buy a shoe, you can give a shoe away. If you buy a song, it goes directly to the doctors."