When Alabama singer Randy Owen began the Country Cares program 25 years ago to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, it is doubtful even he could have imagined that so many of his celebrity friends would pitch in to help raise funds.

But they have, and thanks to their time, devotion and resources, the charitable hospital has raised half a billion dollars, which goes to helping children battling cancer and other catastrophic illnesses receive the most advanced treatment at no cost to them.

Several artists once again spent time at the Memphis hospital last week for the annual Country Cares seminar, and they say there's no place they would rather be.

“One reason I feel so strongly supportive of St. Jude is the fact that when you donate money here, it doesn’t just go to the kids here,” Kellie Pickler tells Country Weekly. “All the research they use that money for, all of that information, they send that all over the world. That says a lot about the organization.”

Sara Evans echoes that sentiment. “It makes you go, ‘Thank you God for things like this.’ St. Jude is the epitome of acting as we should and giving and helping people in need.”

Scotty McCreery made his first, but most likely not his last, visit to the hospital last week. “It’s been pretty incredible,” he notes. “It doesn’t feel like a hospital. You see smiles when you’re going in there. It’s positive energy, so it’s pretty cool.”

Other artists attending last week include  Eli Young Band, Lucy Hale, Krystal Keith, Cassadee Pope, Brantley Gilbert, Rascal Flatts and Owen, who says starting this event in 1989 remains one of his personal and professional highlights.

“That’s one of my passions in life,” he tells The Boot “As long as God lets me live, I want to do things that make a difference in the world besides play music. I love music, don’t get me wrong. I love writing songs. I love doing my radio show and talking to the fans and listening to what they have to say, but there’s a certain responsibility that comes along with being given the gift of music. I take that seriously, but at the same time I try to use it to do something that makes a difference in a positive way.”

Donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital here.