NEW YORK, April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Fund for UNICEF and American Airlines employee volunteers have just returned from a trip to see first-hand UNICEF relief and recovery efforts in Chile, one year after the earthquake that devastated the country. UNICEF's Change for Good program on American Airlines engages employees – known as "Champions for Children" – to collect contributions of foreign and domestic currency from customers to support UNICEF's lifesaving programs.
Champions for Children vote each year to select UNICEF projects that will receive a portion of donations collected through the Change for Good program. For 2009, Chile was the group's chosen beneficiary.
American Airlines flight attendants Aimee Doe of Redondo Beach, California, Charlie Consoli of Montgomery, Texas, Claudia Berra of Buenos Aires and Silvia Sepulveda of Santiago, all Champions for Children, traveled to Concepcion, the city hardest hit by the earthquake. The group visited children and families living in temporary shelters that have benefited from the installation of water and sanitation facilities, as well as receiving new toys, books and back-to-school bags. In addition, they learned more about UNICEF's public education campaigns and met with child care professionals and educators working with children who experienced post-disaster stress as a result of the earthquake.
"UNICEF is providing a sense of normalcy to the lives of children and families in Chile," said Charlie Consoli. "It was amazing to see how the pesos, euros and other currencies we collected are making a difference for so many children."
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, UNICEF and its partners worked with the Chilean government to help meet the basic needs of children and families. UNICEF was a focal-point agency for water and sanitation, as well as child protection; it also helped coordinate delivery of essential items, such as food and hygiene supplies. In response to the needs of children affected by the quake, UNICEF also established unique social programs, including Rebuilding Children's Lives, Programa Puente and Chile Crece Contigo.
The two U.S.-based flight attendants, Aimee Doe and Charlie Consoli, were selected for the trip based on their winning submissions to a contest. Champions for Children were invited to submit a birthday card for the world's children who can now live to celebrate their birthdays, thanks to UNICEF's child survival programs.
UNICEF's Change for Good program on American Airlines is the company's largest – and one of the longest running – charitable programs, proudly supported by Airline Ambassadors International. The volunteer-based program, which is made up of dedicated flight attendants and Admirals Club employees, empowers American Airlines employees to help make a difference for children while performing everyday work duties. A record-breaking $1.6 million was collected in 2010 to support UNICEF programs benefitting children around the world.
For more information please visit www.unicefusa.org/changeforgood.
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UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. But still, 22,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
SOURCE U.S. Fund for UNICEF