Cruise backs anti-drug Scientologists

Hollywood film star Tom Cruise has donated $1500 to an Auckland youth drug programme sponsored by the Church of Scientology.

Cruise sent the cheque and a letter after hearing about the work of the Drug-Free Ambassadors group, which encourages young people to adopt a drug-free lifestyle.

Mo McLeary, manager for the group, which has been running for three years, said it was thrilled with the donation.

Mr McLeary had written to the actor hoping it might receive a photo for publicity use. Instead Cruise sent the Union Bank of California cheque through the Bank of New Zealand.

The money will be used to reprint 10,000 copies of an anti-drug booklet, Truth About Joints, and contribute to a booklet on Ecstasy.

Cruise, who is working in Taranaki on the film The Last Samurai, said in his letter that it was inspiring to read about the group's dedication to educating young people about drugs.

There was a lot of false information around, and providing children with the truth empowered them to make "pro-survival" decisions.

"Keep up the good work! I hope you will continue to keep me informed on your progress."

In February, Cruise gave $7000 to Urenui School in Taranaki to build an outside shelter. The Edge radio station had offered $5000 to anyone who could get the actor to call the station. Cruise called himself and offered $7000 if the radio station would match it.