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Hollywood and Haiti

Katherine Greenspon | Monday, January 25, 2010

On Jan. 12, an earthquake with a scale of 7.0 hit southern Haiti close to capital city Port-au-Prince, where lives were lost and families were separated. The caliber of this tragedy has sent ripples of fear and sadness throughout the world, with people volunteering their time, donating money to major charities, and coming together quickly for a catastrophe that requires awareness and action.

Hollywood’s elite came together this past Friday to put on a “Hope for Haiti” concert and telethon that has been one of the largest aid efforts yet. George Clooney is no stranger to donating and giving aid where it is needed and Friday night’s charity event was one of the largest he has hosted so far. A worldwide broadcast with George Clooney hosting in Los Angeles, Haiti native Wyclef Jean in New York and CNN’s Anderson Cooper in Haiti showed brought raw emotion, news and stories from the Haitian people right to their living room televisions.

Throughout the benefit, celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Aniston, Leonardo DiCaprio, Stephen Spielberg and others manned the phones for the telethon from 8 to 10 p.m. And even after the concert was over, celebrities worked overtime to answer as many phone calls as they could.

The concert segment of the event featured performances by many artists including the likes or Wyclef Jean, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Shakira and Sting in New York City. From the Los Angeles set came numbers by Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift and a group performance by Keith Urban, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. And in London, Coldplay performed, and there was a group performance by Bono, The Edge, Jay-Z and Rihanna.

Clips from the wreckage were streamed during event and Haitian survivors offered their time to share stories and news from their homeland. Hollywood’s most eminent performers gathered center stage for the Haiti relief concert which attracted people from all over the world, calling in with donations and their prayers for the Haitian people.
Sophomore David Fosselman from Siegfried Hall said the benefit concert got his attention and got him involved in relief efforts.

“I wasn’t involved with the Haiti relief effort until I watched the concert with artists like Justin Timberlake who sang Hallelujah,” he said. “It was then that I became inspired to get involved.”

During the concert, students called in to the telethon to give their donations by phone. Not only were they donating to an excellent cause, they were given the chance to talk to celebrities over the phone.

Sophomores Shannon Whelan and Karen Hanley did just that.

“After getting the busy signal numerous times I finally got a hold of a telethon operator where I was able to give my donation,” Whelan said.

“Having the telethon was a great idea because it made it so easy to call in and donate, plus I was able to watch a great concert,” Hanley said.

“Hope for Haiti” has reportedly brought in more than $50 million already, and donations are still coming in.

All proceeds from the event will be divided up between five charities, including UNICEF, the Red Cross, Oxfam America, Partners in Health and Wyclef’s Yele Haiti foundation. All five of these notable charities are working actively in Haiti right now.

Performances that were televised are now available on iTunes for $.99 and Apple has agreed to give all funds directly to the “Hope For Haiti” charities.
For more information on Haiti Relief charities and how to donate and make your contribution visit www.hopeforhaitinow.org or call toll free at 1-877-99-HAITI.