American Airlines Flight Attendants Visit Dominican Republic To Witness UNICEF's Lifesaving Programs for Children and Families

Mar 22, 2012, 11:09 ET from U.S. Fund for UNICEF

NEW YORK, March 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The U.S. Fund for UNICEF and American Airlines employee volunteers have returned from a trip to see first-hand UNICEF programs in the Dominican Republic focusing on child survival, protection and development. UNICEF's Change for Good program on American Airlines engages American's employees – known as "Champions for Children" – who volunteer to collect contributions of foreign and domestic currency from customers to support UNICEF's lifesaving programs around the world.


Champions for Children vote each year to choose which countries and initiatives will receive a portion of donations collected through the Change for Good program.  For 2011, the Dominican Republic was the group's chosen beneficiary country.

American Airlines flight attendants Andrea Hackim and Monika Kennel, based in Miami International Airport, along with Evelyn Cordova and Adriann Raschdorf-Nelson, based in JFK International Airport, all Champions for Children, traveled to Santo Domingo, Boca Chica, Mamá Tingó, and Santiago to see UNICEF programs at work. The flight attendants visited a local hospital in Santo Domingo to see programs focused on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention as well as birth registration. They also learned about UNICEF's programs that help strengthen local capacity to prevent and protect children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect.

Additionally, the group visited a UNICEF-supported childcare center that provides food, integrated education, early childhood stimulation, and psychosocial and recreational activities to children ages 45 days old to five years.

"Having collected donations for UNICEF's Change for Good program on American Airlines for the last three years, it was truly rewarding to see how UNICEF's work is impacting the lives of children and families in the Dominican Republic," said Andrea Hackim. "I am very proud to be part of the program."

The four Champions for Children were selected to participate in the trip as the result of a peer nomination contest. While visiting a school in Santiago, they shared with local students special artwork created by fifth grade classes at the Miami Children's Museum Charter School. Prior to the trip, Champion Andrea Hackim visited the Miami Children's Museum to talk about UNICEF's Change for Good program and UNICEF's work in the Dominican Republic.

American Airlines has been the participating U.S. airline in UNICEF's global Change for Good program since 1994. It is American Airlines' largest – and one of the longest running – charitable programs, proudly supported by Airline Ambassadors International. The volunteer-based initiative, 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. In 2011, more than $1.34 million was collected for UNICEF, helping support children and families affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as the devastating food crisis and drought in the Horn of Africa. The 2011 collections are also supporting UNICEF's HIV/AIDS programs in Latin America and other lifesaving programs for children around the world.

"We are very proud of our 17-year partnership with American Airlines," said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "Thanks to the unwavering dedication of American Airlines employee volunteers and the continued generosity of American Airlines customers, UNICEF programs will help support more children and families around the world."

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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 and immunizations, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency and disaster 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 more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 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.