Sunday, January 24, 2010

'Hope for Haiti' raises $58 million and counting

Friday night's star-studded "Hope for Haiti" telethon has raised a record-breaking $58 million, with more donations continuing to pour in from around the world, the benefit's organizers announced Saturday.

The preliminary figure is a record for donations made by the public through a disaster relief telethon, according to a news release from telethon organizers.

Additionally, the "Hope for Haiti Now" album, a compilation of the night's musical performances made available on Apple's iTunes, was the No. 1 album in 18 countries Saturday. Sales figures for iTunes are still being calculated, and the preliminary figure of $58 million does not include donations from corporations or large private donors.

People will be able to make donations to "Hope for Haiti" via phone, Web, text messaging and regular mail for the next six months, according to the news release.

A moving performance by Alicia Keys opened Friday night's telethon, and actor George Clooney, serving as the Los Angeles host for the event, made the first appeal for donations to raise money for relief efforts after last week's devastating earthquake.

Video: 'Hope For Haiti Now'
Video: 'Hope for Haiti' Coldplay
Video: 'Hope for Haiti' Beyonce
Video: Clooney talks of telethon

* Haiti
* George Clooney
* Yele Haiti Foundation

"The Haitian people need our help," Clooney said. "They need to know they are not alone. They need to know that we still care."

The show was one of the most widely distributed prime-time televised benefits in history, appearing simultaneously on more than 25 networks -- including CNN, where Anderson Cooper reported live from Haiti during the event.

More than 100 actors, musicians and other celebrities answered phones in New York and Los Angeles after professional operators first talked to donors.

"Thank you so much for your donation," actress Reese Witherspoon told one caller. "You can't imagine how much love and great, wonderful energy is here today. People are doing everything they can to make a difference in these people's lives."

Several other calls were aired live, including with Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg, Taylor Swift and Stevie Wonder.

Swift and Wonder were among the evening's musical performers. Others included Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Shakira, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Coldplay, Christina Aguilera, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, Jennifer Hudson, Madonna, Dave Matthews and Neil Young.

Other celebrities appearing on the telethon included Jon Stewart, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman, Ben Stiller, Clint Eastwood and Denzel Washington.

Proceeds from the telethon will benefit Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF, the U.N. World Food Programme, Yele Haiti Foundation and the Clinton Bush Haiti Foundation.

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