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Chenoweth giving animals a voice

December 8, 2011 -- Updated 0249 GMT (1049 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kristin Chenoweth started a nonprofit that works with local animal shelters
  • Maddie's Corner is named after Chenoweth's dog, who is named after late actress Madeline Kahn
  • Chenoweth: I grew up in Oklahoma around a lot of animals, they inspire me

Program note: "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, live on CNN. During the show, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be providing interviews and backstage looks that can only be seen on CNN.com and your mobile device.

(CNN) -- Actress Kristin Chenoweth started Maddie's Corner, an organization that supports animals in need.

Chenoweth recently sat down with CNN's Sonya Hamasaki to talk about CNN Heroes and how she promotes the bond between people and their pets. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Sonya Hamasaki: What is Maddie's Corner?

Kristin Chenoweth: I started Maddie's Corner probably five years ago. My idea was animals helping people who help animals. Maybe an animal needs to be matched to the right home of someone in need, and then (that) ultimately helps the animal, too.

We do a lot with local shelters that need money for spays; getting money for spays is a big issue. I'd like to see animals get their shots, so we help with that. We help with adoption. We all need to give how we can, but in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and my new hometowns of Los Angeles and New York, we work locally with people and animals who need help.

Hamasaki: What inspired you to start Maddie's Corner?

Chenoweth: Animals inspire me every day. I grew up in Oklahoma around a lot of animals, and a lot of my relatives are farmers and ranchers. I have a lot of respect for all kinds and what they can bring to our lives.

I finally became one of those New Yorkers that got a little white fluffy dog. I never thought that she'd take over my life, but she's given me such joy and she's made me so happy. I love show business, but this dog basically reminds me of what's important. My family loves her; my mom and dad look at her like it's their own grandchild.

Through Maddie's Corner, I've gotten to meet other dogs that are in need. Just recently I got to do a morning show in New York, and it was adoption day. I got to bring a dog on, and that dog got adopted that day. There are still so many animals in need, and adoption should not be ruled out.

Hamasaki: What's the inspiration behind the name?

Chenoweth: Madeline Kahn Chenoweth is my dog. Madeline Kahn was a big hero of mine, a wonderful actress and singer who actually passed away of cancer. She was an artistic, funny lady, someone who inspired me and is one of my personal heroes. So it seemed right to have a charity and a dog named after her.

Hamasaki: Why did you get involved in CNN Heroes?

Chenoweth: I look forward every year to finding out who the CNN Heroes are, because they're everyday people.

It has become even more important to me because I have a cousin who is serving for our country in Afghanistan. Those people, it goes without saying, are our heroes. It's become more important to me to find out more about our military; more about everyday people; more about a place called the Love Kitchen, where sisters feed the homeless; more about women who are helping animals.

Humanity's an amazing thing, and that's what CNN Heroes celebrates. That's what they show through this tribute show, and that's why I'm so proud to be involved.

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