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Celebrities, Athletes Plead for Earthquake Support

With Haiti in utter turmoil after being rocked by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake this week, a number of Hollywood celebrities and athletes have opened their wallets to help the impoverished country rebuild.

By Melissa Arteaga Marti | PODER360.com
Monica Almeida | The New York Times

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on the red carpet during arrivals for the 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Pro athletes and Hollywood celebrities of considerable renown have been tweeting, blogging and urging their colleagues to do the right thing and answer the call for help in the neediest of Caribbean nations, Haiti.

Haitian native and music producer, Wyclef Jean, has joined the relief effort on the ground, while others like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Ben Stiller and Scarlett Johansson are all encouraging people to donate.

“My heart goes out to the millions of people affected by the tragic events that have afflicted Haiti,” Johansson told Pop Tarts via her rep. “As an ambassador of Oxfam, I urge those who are able to donate to the organization which currently has over 200 people on the ground and a team of 15 highly-experienced emergency specialists based in the capital that are responding with public health, water and sanitation services to prevent the spread of water borne disease.”

Jolie and Pitt, both UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, have also expressed their devastation in a statement and vowed to work closely with Jean to assist those who have been injured and left homeless. The power couple visited Haiti with Jean four years ago to bring worldwide awareness to the impoverished nation, speak with workers in a USAID funded project and meet with local school children.

Jolie’s fellow Goodwill ambassador, Alyssa Milano, asked for followers to on her Twitter page to donate to the Red Cross.

Jean was quick to encourage the general public to do all they could to help by texting “Yele” to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to his Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund (charged to your cell phone bill), or by visiting www.Yele.org and clicking on "DONATE."

“Haiti faced a natural disaster of unprecedented proportion, an earthquake unlike anything the country has ever experienced,” he said in a statement. “I cannot stress enough what a human disaster this is, and idle hands will only make this tragedy worse. The over 2 million people in Port-au-Prince tonight face catastrophe alone. We must act now.”

Stiller, who recently launched a series of viral videos on Stillerstrong.org in the hope of raising money for the Save the Children’s Ceverine Community School Project in Haiti, is urging all to lend a hand.

"I was there last year for the first time, and was struck by the amazing spirit and culture of the people and place, and the extreme hardship these people have lived with – and that was before the recent tragedy,” Stiller told Pop Tarts in a statement on Wednesday. “Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world which will make their recovery from this disaster extremely difficult."

Coldplay’s Chris Martin is pressing for donations to Oxfam’s Haiti appeal: “I visited Haiti with Oxfam a few years ago. It’s a country of extreme poverty and brutal living conditions. Most people in Port-au-Prince live in tin shacks. The earthquake that has struck Haiti will have turned the city into an unimaginable hell.”

Chat show queen Oprah Winfrey, Shakira and Paris Hilton have also urged their fans to donate money to help the quake victims.

Shakira posted a message on her personal website, asking everyone to donate cash to Jean’s Yele charity organization, while other stars including Mark Hoppus, Yoko Ono, and Kim Kardashian have all taken to their Twitter.com pages to raise awareness of the tragedy.

Madonna has also donated considerable funds to help end the unfathomable suffering. In a statement sent to PerezHilton.com, the singer says: “My prayers are with the people of Haiti. I can’t imagine the terrible pain and suffering they are experiencing. Sadly the depths of the tragedy are just becoming known and the need for our support grows more urgent with every passing moment.

George Clooney announced that he has signed on for a telethon to aid the devastated island nation. The Oscar-winning actor will take part in a fundraising program to be telecast on all MTV networks on Friday, January 22, according to a posting at MTV.com. The article notes that other actors and musicians will be announced as taking part in upcoming days.

Gisele Bündchen made a generous donation to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady "was so moved, she knew she had to do what she could to help" and wrote a check Thursday for $1.5 million to the Red Cross for its Haitian relief effort, a source close to the supermodel told People magazine.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon sent out a short message on his Facebook page, thanking his fans in advance for donating to the Haitian relief effort, and providing a link.

"I'm giving out autographed items to fans who donate money to help my foundation help with the Haiti relief," the message said. Within 20 minutes, Garcon had raised $600 – greater than the average annual income of Haiti – and by early Thursday afternoon, the donations have already hit the $10,000 mark.

Garcon and other athletes are taking the initiative.

Across the sports world, athletes and organizations are urging their fans too. Major League Baseball pledged $1 million coordinated through UNICEF, and The New York Yankees are donating $500,000.

U.S. national soccer team star Jozy Altidore, who has Haitian ancestry, said Thursday that he would take leave from his team in the English Premier League in order to make a trip to Haiti and try to make contact with more than a dozen family members who are unaccounted for.

Golfer Tiger Woods, set to rescue his name from tabloid mayhem, is donating $3 million to Jean's Yele Foundation in an effort to create a mobile hospital in earthquake-hit Haiti.

According to rap mogul Russell Simmons, Woods is considering donation so that it would help send doctors and supplies to Haiti to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake, reports dailystar.co.uk. "Tiger Woods is working on sending a mobile hospital in Haiti,” said Simmons. Simmons has called on various celebrities to join the relief effort.

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