When he’s not scamming and spying on GENERAL HOSPITAL, Tristan Rogers (Robert) devotes his time to Project Cuddle.
“It’s an organization that runs around bringing kids out of Dumpsters and garbage cans,” explains the actor. “It’s really something that tugs at the heartstrings, and I can’t think of a nobler thing to be involved in. John Stamos (ex-Blackie) is actually their national spokesperson, but it’s by pure coincidence that we’re both involved in this.”
Founded by Debbe Magnusen, Project Cuddle helps prevent infants from being abandoned. It provides a 24-hour, toll-free crisis hotline where pregnant girls/women, new mothers, their friends and family can turn for help: 88-TO-CUDDLE (888-628-3353).
Magnusen’s childhood desire “to make sure that all kids have moms and dads and that nobody felt abandoned” led her to become a foster mother as an adult. She and her husband, Dave, fostered 35 babies, adopting five of them. “My house was full, but that desire [to do more] was still there,” admits Magnusen. “In 1986, I heard on the news about a baby in Santa Ana [Calif.] that had been found suffocated in a trash bag. I was devastated. I thought, Everybody knows I’m a foster mom. Why wouldn’t they just bring him here?’ Then, I thought, How are they supposed to know I exist? That’s when the toll-free number came to life. Within 12 hours we had our first call from a woman who hadn’t even delivered yet. We ended up getting an OB/GYN, counselor, adoptive family and an attorney. I coached in the birth of the baby. That’s when I realized how huge this was. Not only am I saving the life of the baby, I’m saving the woman from breaking the law. Since then we’ve gone on to rescue 554 babies that were abandoned.”
Rogers marvels at the fact that Project Cuddle isn’t federally funded. “When I first heard about it, I thought, Well, surely there’s some government organization that’s responsible for this. But there isn’t,” he notes. “People can say what they want about Canada, Britain, Australia, and Europe, but something like this wouldn’t be allowed to go on there. They have a more socialist government that takes care of their own people. Here, it comes out of private money. It comes from Debbe’s time, her finances and any way that she can afford to put it together. When you think about the amount of time that she’s put into this and has devoted herself to it, you just have got to become involved.”
And Rogers did just that, shortly before his own children were born. “When I became a parent I saw it in a whole different way,” admits Rogers. “There are babies that have no chance at all. Before they have a chance they’re dumped. This organization gives them a chance.”
Aside from Rogers and Stamos, other celebrities involved in Project Cuddle include Paula Abdul, Kathy Najimy and Mary Stuart Masterson. “Tristan’s been great,” raves Magnusen. “He’s talked to some of our moms and given them a big morale boost. He’s been at our events and helped with providing auction items to help raise funds.
“Nobody wants a baby in a trash can,” emphasizes Magnusen. “It’s an issue that crosses every line. We’ve had mothers as young as 12 and as old as 47. We’ve had the millionaire daughter and the poorest of the poor living under bridges. We’ve had them all.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or making a donation can call Project Cuddle’s non-emergency number: 714-432-9681. For more information, go to: projectcuddle.org.