selena grandparentsSelena Gomez is no stranger to kindness—in fact, it runs in the family.

The Cornett family, who adopted Selena’s mother at birth, has a legacy of charitable giving that began generations before Selena became a UNICEF Ambassador in 2009.

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Selena’s 3rd great-grandmother, Hannah Kistler Cornett, lived in rural Oklahoma at the height of the Dust Bowl. An April 30, 1936, article in the Adair County Democrat lauded Hannah’s happy marriage of 66 years to her husband, John Corbett. The reporter specifically noted Hannah’s reputation for “bounty to children” and how she “drew intense happiness from seeing children about her, and seeing them enjoy little gifts.”


selena grandma
Adair County Democrat, April 30, 1936 (image courtesy of


During Christmas of 1935, Hannah, at the age of 84, gave 200 Christmas presents “to children of her community as well as giving large numbers of quilts to the Red Cross.”

As a UNICEF Ambassador, Selena now supports children in need all over the world. In 2011, Selena participated in the 12 Days of UNICEF, encouraging people to give “Inspired Gifts,” such as 80 doses of measles vaccine, to further UNICEF’s goal of zero preventable child deaths worldwide.

When Hannah Cornett gave children little presents to lift their spirits during the Depression, she probably never dreamed that her habit of kindness would live on in a great-granddaughter who would one day work to prevent measels in children in Africa.

That’s a legacy Hannah Cornett can be proud of.