Best Western International and Torrance Students Make $500,000 Donation to UNICEF Tsunami Relief and Recovery Fund

Special Event Celebrates Nationwide Success of Cartoon Network/Best Western ‘Kids Help Out Matching Program’; Features Acoustic Performance by Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson

TORRANCE, Calif., May 26 /PRNewswire/ — Best Western International and Cartoon Network are celebrating the success of Best Western’s “Kids Help Out Matching Program” today, recognizing the heroic achievements of American children who have raised $9 million for UNICEF’s tsunami relief and recovery efforts. In doing so, the hotel chain will present the U.S. Fund for UNICEF with a $400,000 donation — its original commitment to the children’s organization through the matching program.

The celebration, taking place at Edison Elementary School, will also include a $100,000 check presentation from the Torrance Unified School District, which was raised by its 25,000 students at the K-12 level. Comprised of 31 schools, Torrance is being recognized as one of the largest “Kids Help Out Matching Program” contributors in the nation.

Highlighting the event will be a special performance by Roger Hodgson, singer and composer formerly of the band Supertramp, whose song, “Give A Little Bit,” has served as the theme for the “Kids Help Out” campaign.

“These donations are a testament to the power of student fundraising and a clear demonstration of the determination and generosity of children to raise funds to help children and families around the world, especially following a devastating event like the South Asian tsunami,” said Charles J. Lyons, President of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “With help from our committed corporate partners, such as Best Western and Cartoon Network, we have the ability to work together to support child survival, protection and development worldwide.”

Added Larry McRae, Chairman of the Board for Best Western, “The value of our partnership with UNICEF and Cartoon Network is found not only in the incredible response to the ‘Kids Help Out Matching Program,’ but also in the overall selflessness and compassion defining today’s youth. With the family at the heart of our business, Best Western is proud to support the efforts of each and every child across the country who donated to this worthwhile cause, bringing the hope of a brighter future to their peers in South Asia.”

Earlier this year, Cartoon Network and Best Western united to support UNICEF’s tsunami relief and recovery efforts, creating the “Kids Help Out Matching Program” (www.kidshelpout.org). The joint initiative was designed to recognize and encourage the generosity and leadership of individual children, schools and youth groups in their efforts to assist those affected by December’s deadly tsunami. As part of its “Best Western for a Better World” community service program, the hotel chain matched donations received through the program — up to $400,000 — from children under age 18 from December 26, 2004 through March 31, 2005.

“This entire project stemmed from the fact that more than one-third of the tsunami victims were children under the age of 12,” said Jim Samples, executive vice president and general manager of Cartoon Network. “Our goal was to create a campaign that would show kids that they, too, could become vitally involved in bringing much-needed relief to hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia. We were thrilled that Best Western shared this vision and helped mobilize kids here in Torrance and across the country, proving to all of us that there’s no limit to what can be accomplished when given a passionate opportunity.”

During the campaign, Cartoon Network, a long-time UNICEF partner, created and aired “Kids Help Out” public service announcements that featured on-camera performances from some of the music world’s top musicians, including UNICEF ambassadors Clay Aiken and India.Arie, and Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik, singing the “Give A Little Bit” theme. The PSAs also presented original animation depicting the joy of kids helping other kids, and pointed viewers to the www.kidshelpout.org Web site that encouraged kids to raise funds for UNICEF’s tsunami relief efforts. The site also provided inspiring examples of what kids across the country were doing on a local level to raise support for the natural disaster victims.

About Best Western International

Best Western International is THE WORLD’S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN(R) with more than 4,100 hotels in 80 countries and territories. It is a membership association of independently owned and operated hotels that provides marketing, reservations and operational support to its members. For more information, please visit www.bestwestern.com.

About Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network, currently seen in 87.8 million U.S. homes and 160 countries around the world, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s 24-hour, ad-supported cable service offering the best in animated entertainment.

About Roger Hodgson:

Roger Hodgson is the highly recognizable voice and composer of the most well-known songs of Supertramp. While “The Logical Song,” “Take the Long Way Home” and “Breakfast in America” still constantly grace the airwaves 25 years after their release, it is the message of “Give a Little Bit” that has become the anthem for fundraising efforts around the world. After being very involved with these efforts since the beginning of this year, Roger begins a worldwide tour next month with a series of solo and orchestral shows. www.rogerhodgson.com

About UNICEF

Founded in 1946, UNICEF helps save, protect and improve the lives of children in 157 countries through immunization, education, health care, nutrition, clean water and sanitation. UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination. In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority. For more information about UNICEF or to make a donation, please visit www.unicefusa.org or call 1-800-4UNICEF.

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