The Gossip Girl star has been appealing for the return of her eight-year-old son Hermes and five-year-old daughter Helena to their native America from France, where they are living with her German ex-husband Daniel Giersch, after he was granted primary custody in 2012 when his U.S. visa was revoked for unknown reasons.

Rutherford lost her latest bid to overturn the custody ruling in April (15) and she is now waiting to hear from U.S. President Barack Obama after a White House website petition calling on the leader to intervene and help bring her children home attracted more than the required 100,000 signatures for officials to comment on the case.

Her friend and activist Heslov, wife of George Clooney's producing partner Grant Heslov, has now embarked on a new mission to collect donations for Rutherford so she can keep up the legal battle, which led to her filing for bankruptcy in 2013.

The campaign, simply titled Kelly Rutherford Legal Fund, was launched earlier this week (begs18May15) and had raised over $4,600 (£2,875) as WENN went to press.

Rutherford has been stepping up her media blitz to draw attention to her custody campaign in recent weeks, prompting her ex to accuse her of violating a court order by sharing photos of their children in the press.

The actress has yet to respond to the allegations.

The former couple split in 2008.