On Wednesday, January 5, 2005, NBC-owned stations throughout the U.S. aired a one-hour “Tsunami Relief Fund Drive.” Celebrities, volunteers and the American public joined together with UNICEF to raise funds for the 1.5 million affected children in South Asia.
The fund drive was broadcast live from WNBC in New York, and was hosted by the station’s lead anchors Chuck Scarborough and Sue Simmons. They were joined by Access Hollywood’s Nancy O’Dell, who hosted the program from the West Coast. UNICEF Ambassadors Sarah Jessica Parker, Tea Leoni, and Clay Aiken along with UNICEF Supporters appeared live throughout the show to help support the relief efforts
On December 26, 2004, a massive tsunami – powered by a 9.0 magnitude undersea earthquake – was unleashed near the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It struck 11 countries, crossed thousands of miles of ocean, and left more than 230,000 people dead. Millions were made homeless. It was one of the most devastating events of its kind in history.
Charles J. Lyons was the president of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in 2005. He said:
“UNICEF is extremely grateful to NBC 4 for spearheading this initiative
and extremely thankful to those who made contributions on behalf of children
affected by the tsunamis in South Asia. The unprecedented amount of funds raised for
UNICEF in last night’s telethon will be converted into relief supplies within
days for children and families who are in critical need of basic care and
The final tally of the evening from more than 36,000 phone calls to 1.800.4UNICEF was an estimated $4.4 million. When combined with the $5.6 million in corporate donations, this put the total at a whopping $10 million. This amount did not include the many donations that were placed through the UNICEF automated system.
As a celebrity spokesperson for the Tsunami Fundraising effort, Clay played an important role in the evening. He spoke eloquently about the need for education after the basic needs of the children were met. He mentioned how important it is to keep some consistency in the lives of the children after the devastation.
In the following days, Clay was interviewed on many of the entertainment and news programs. He was articulate and caring as he talked about the job that UNICEF was doing in the area. He was an excellent spokesperson for UNICEF as he explained about how the money would be used. He said:
“This money will help UNICEF address the immediate and emerging needs of
children in South Asia, and will include:
* Emergency immunization to prevent fatal childhood diseases
* Supply of clean, safe water and provision of basic sanitation
* Special feeding for malnourished children and pregnant women
* Care for traumatized children”
There are many videos of the different programs that featured Clay as a spokesperson for UNICEF. I chose two that I think show how important his role was to the cause.
The Tsunami Fundraiser – Clay Sections
The Insider (they gave the wrong date, but its a lot of Clay!)