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Tom Hanks honored by Elie Wiesel Foundation

Honoree Tom Hanks, left, Rita Wilson, Elie Wiesel and Christiane Amanpour attend The Elie Wiesel Foundation For Humanity's Arts for Humanity Gala on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 in New York. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
October 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks was honored by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity at the New York Public Library Wednesday.

Hanks' consistent charitable endeavors earned him the honor.

"We work very hard in a business that deserves and earns every bit of ridicule that we heap upon it. But at the end of the day you got to wake up in the morning and try to make the world a better place," Hanks said.

The 56-year old actor says that's the way he was raised.

"We're American, and Americans take into account the common good. So in that regard, I feel very lucky and very blessed that I've been able to do that, when I've been able to do that," Hanks said.

While Hanks says he recognizes the importance of philanthropic work, he feels that arts education still needs government support.

"I believe any form of government, particularly ours in the United States of America, has been over and over again this engine for social change in a magnificent way when it gets around to doing the right thing. And right now, I think we're putting a lot of emphasis on the idea that philanthropy can take care of everything, which is not the case," Hanks said.

The foundation seeks to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice, according to its website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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