NEW YORK – As two former U.S. presidents appealed for Americans to open their pocketbooks to help victims of the South Asian tsunami, celebrities and corporations made significant contributions to the effort.
News Corp., the parent company of FOX News Channel and FOXNews.com, announced Tuesday that it would donate $1 million, splitting its contribution between Oxfam America and the Salvation Army. The company is also matching employee contributions to private organizations listed on the USA Freedom Corps Web site.
"While the world has already responded with great compassion, we can do more — and we should do more," Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman, wrote in an e-mail to the company's workers.
[For a listing of aid organizations accepting donations to help tsunami victims, click here.]
Celebrities are also joining the cause. Actress Sandra Bullock donated $1 million, her publicist said Monday. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who filmed "The Beach" on the Thai island Phi Phi, hit by the deadly waves, set up a link on his Web site for people wanting to donate to UNICEF. A Hong Kong charity show, featuring William Hung of "American Idol" fame, raised $6.2 million. And NBC is holding a celebrity telethon Jan. 15 with proceeds going to relief efforts.
Former President George H.W. Bush (search) said Tuesday the initial response to pleas for private donations "has been wonderful," and he and former President Bill Clinton (search) said they are eager to press for more.
"We have no goal" in terms of money, Bush said. "We think this is a long-term effort. There is no dollar figure set, but I can tell you this: Private funds have been pouring in. I'm very, very pleased to be a part of this with President Clinton."
President Bush on Monday named his father and Clinton to head the private relief effort, and the pair of former presidents planned a busy schedule of public appearances to push the cause. Bush already has offered $350 million in U.S. government aid.
The former presidents urged Americans to visit the government Web site, http://www.usafreedomcorps.gov, which has links directing people to various reputable charities.
"It's important to get as much cash, even small contributions, as we can, because there's a backlog in delivering the physical merchandise to people," Clinton said on ABC. "Right now, if we can put the money in the hands of people on the ground, then they can spend it as needed."
Bush said, "The generosity and the heartbeat of the American people is such that we're going to get this job done."
Bush and Clinton — the latter defeated the former's 1992 re-election bid — acknowledged that they were a political odd couple.
"Yes, we're political rivals," Bush said, "but in a national, international crisis, we come together as individuals and as a country."
"I think it's going to happen," he said on CBS of the private fund-raising effort.
"As soon as I got back to my office yesterday, the phones were lighting up," he added. "So, it will come from all quarters, and it should. Americans are very generous and they care a lot."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.