Newman gives to drama club

YPSILANTI, Mich. - Ypsilanti High School drama teacher Michelle Peet checked her mailbox Monday and discovered money.

Paul Newman, once a budding actor himself, had donated $5,000 to the school's drama club as part of its ongoing fundraising effort.

Inside an envelope delivered from Westport, Conn., was a check that will help defray costs associated with the drama club's upcoming trip to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Club members are scheduled to perform a 90-minute show there.

A brief note accompanied Newman's check: "The enclosed contribution is sent with every good wish for continued success in your worthy endeavors."

Since January, the club has been soliciting donations via a mass letter-writing campaign that included Newman and other celebrities.

To date, the club has raised $75,000. Peet said the money will cover travel, housing at the University of Edinburgh and two daily meals. She said Newman's donation will cut in half the club's need to raise $10,000 for the show's production costs and another daily meal.

Band still helping Mississippi Coast

JACKSON, Miss. - Gulf Coast natives 3 Doors Down have been trying to give Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi a "better life" for the past two years.

The Escatawpa band has raised $800,000 through its charity, the Better Life Foundation.

"It is the right thing to do, pretty much the only thing to do," lead guitarist Matt Roberts said in a telephone interview from Orlando, Fla., where the band is working on its follow-up CD to 2005's "Seventeen Days."

Last July, the multi-platinum selling group did the first concert since Hurricane Katrina at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. On Thursday, it's playing another opening event as the inaugural performers at the new Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Resort Biloxi.

The group - lead vocalist Brad Arnold, guitarists Roberts and Chris Henderson, bassist Todd Harrell and drummer Greg Upchurch - purchased a fire truck and three police cars for the city of Waveland, which suffered severe damage after the storm. The fire department lost all its vehicles.

The band did not go away after Katrina, returning several times, including on the anniversary of the storm.

3 Doors Down had its first radio-friendly hit with the single "Kryptonite" in 2000. Since then the band has scored multiplatinum success with albums "The Better Life," "Away from the Sun," "Here Without You" and "Seventeen Days." Their notable singles have included "Here Without You," "When I'm Gone," "Let Me Go" and "Be Like That."