Variety is a worldwide organisation with 43 offices across 13 countries. Variety New Zealand benefits from its international links, but ensures that all funds raised in New Zealand stay in New Zealand.
In Pittsburgh in 1927 a group of eleven men, friends from the entertainment industry, formed a social club which, due to their various show-business backgrounds, which they called The Variety Club. Twelve months later on Christmas Eve 1928, a one month-old baby girl was found abandoned on a seat in the Sheridan Theatre, Pittsburgh. A note was pinned to her dress which said:
“Please take care of my baby. Her name is Catherine. I can no longer take care of her. I have eight other children. My husband is out of work. She was born on Thanksgiving Day. I have always heard of the goodness of show-business people and pray to God that you will look after her.”
It was signed, 'A Broken Hearted Mother.'
Unable to locate her parents, the theatre manager and the ten other club members decided to underwrite the infant's care and education. They named her Catherine Variety Sheridan, and so began Variety's philanthropic focus. Publicity surrounding Catherine and her benefactors attracted so much support that following her adoption at the age of five, The Variety Club decided to actively raise funds to support other disadvantaged children. It was not long before their efforts established Variety as the children's charity.
In New Zealand, the Variety Club became known as Variety - the Children's Charity in 1999. Variety International is based in Los Angeles. It is headed by International President Barbie Hislop.