Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope Raises $18.3 Million for American Red Cross

Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope Raises $18.3 Million for American Red Cross
"Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope," the telethon hosted by NBC Universal on Saturday, January 15, 2005, has raised a lot of money -- and a lot of hope -- for the tsunami relief effort. Current totals, released last Friday, show that $18.3 million dollars has been donated to the relief efforts.

"The American people once again demonstrated tremendous compassion and generosity to the tsunami victims by supporting this special event," said Marsha J. Evans, American Red Cross President and CEO, who attended the show in New York. "I am grateful to NBC Universal, to the artists and celebrities who participated, and to all who supported this important effort, especially SBC Communications."

The two-hour concert, which was broadcast from Universal Studios in Universal City, Rockefeller Center in New York and the BBC Studios in London, featured performances by artists such as Madonna, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Sarah McLachlan, Eric Clapton and Sheryl Crow. Celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, Renee Zellweger and Halle Berry donated their time to man the phone lines and personally thank donors who made contributions during the East Coast broadcast, as well as give speeches about the devastation and the need for donations.

In addition to the national broadcast, individual NBC stations raised another $10 million through separate telethons, the network said.

Modeled after the 9/11 benefit that aired to 59.3 million viewers, ten days after the terrible event, this month's benefit show was plagued by low viewership. It averaged only about 8 million viewers, from all combined channels showing it. Compare that to the 21.5 million viewers for Fox's football telecast opposite it, or the 33.5 million that tuned in to last week's fourth season debut of American Idol, and it appears that perhaps Americans aren't interested in helping if it happens half a world away.

All funds raised during the concert will support the American Red Cross assistance plan to meet the immediate and long-term needs of tsunami victims. Relief efforts will focus on five key areas: food and safe water; healthcare and disease prevention; immediate family supplies; mental health counseling; and disaster preparedness and prevention measures.

Combining the funds generated through the concert with previous fundraising efforts, approximately $213.4 million to date has been pledged to the American Red Cross International Response Fund for tsunami relief efforts.

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