'Vampire Diaries' star Ian Somerhalder connects with fans for his 33rd birthday

ian-somerhalder-bday-message.jpg Zap2it's " Vampire Diaries" love is no secret, but with the show off the air until January 5, 2012... let's just say we've got some time on our hands. Series star Ian Somerhalder, however, has never been one for free time. In addition to shooting a lead role on the show taping auditions for hiatus projects, Somerhalder remains as involved as ever in his IS Foundation, which launched one year ago.

What little spare time he did have is about to disappear, because Somerhalder is taking on a new project as he celebrates his 33rd birthday on Dec. 8. He's asking fans who have the means to donate to his Foundation instead of sending a birthday card or gift, and in return, he's going to thank everyone personally. You can donate as little as $5 -- or a nice $33, in honor of the big day -- and Ian hopes to write you an email in thanks.

"If you were intending to send me a gift for my birthday, thank you--seriously. It's incredible that people take time out just for me... but if you are intending to send a gift this year, I beg of you not to. Let's not add to our accumulated demand on this planet: resources, manufacturing, packaging, shipping...," he writes on his site. "Everyone who has it within their hearts to support ISF deserves some respect and love, and the only way I know how to give a little of this to so very many is to try my very best to try to send each and everyone of you a personal email. I want to reach out so I can thank you for your support and learn a little about you to discover how you fit into this remarkable family."

We're not sure how he's going to find time to sleep in between writing all those emails, but Somerhalder's dedication to his Foundation -- and, more importantly, to his fans -- is unparalleled. If you want to get in touch with him and Twitter just isn't cutting it, this is your chance -- and yes, anyone in the world can donate.

After one wildly successful year with the Foundation including successes in delaying the Keystone XL Pipeline, banning shark fins in California, changing Canadian sled dog laws, and more, Somerhalder is looking forward to embarking on even bigger projects for 2012.

In a video message to fans, Somerhalder calls the IS Family "one of the most phenomenal aspects" of an already arguably phenomenal life. "With the type of progression and inspiration that we're creating here, along with governmental bodies, individuals like you and me, corporations and universities, we can do it," he says. "Because that's ISF; that's what we do."

The personal emails are sure to take a while, but Somerhalder is confident he'll be able to pull it off. "I'm going to make you understand how much I appreciate and need you," he says. "We can't do this alone."

Watch the full video below. Somerhalder's birthday is Dec. 8, and if you can spare some cash -- be it $5, $33, or $500 -- you can help make his birthday wish come true. (If you can't spare the $5, no worries! Help by spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook. That makes a difference, too!)


Photo/Video credit: ISFoundation