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US Football Stars Help UN Tsunami Relief Efforts

Exchanging Helmets For Shovels, US Football Stars Help UN Tsunami Relief Efforts

Exchanging the manicured green of the football field for the tropical wasteland of tsunami-devastated Indonesia, two National Football League (NFL) players, quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receiver Amani Toomer of the New York Giants, are at the disaster’s ground zero supporting United Nations efforts to deliver food to survivors.

Both Mr. Warner and Mr. Toomer and their wives, Brenda and Yola, cancelled their previous holiday plans to devote themselves to help the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Aceh province, the area worst-hit by December’s tsunami which killed over 200,000 people and left up 5 million lacking basic services in a dozen Indian Ocean countries.

While living with other UN humanitarian workers in the tented UN compound in the main city, Banda Aceh, they are working on the frontlines of WFP’s emergency operation, loading helicopters with food and participating in food distributions to displaced families in the city and the devastated coastal town of Lamno.

They will also help clean the rubble in a secondary school in Banda Aceh, as well as meet with the provincial soccer team, which lost a number of its key players in the disaster, in an effort to raise awareness of the critical work WFP is doing in Asia, where it is assisting more than 1 million tsunami survivors.

“In many of our operations, WFP works with respected public figures to help tell the story of WFPâ’s work. It is particularly important for the victims of the tsunami and their tragedy, which is receiving worldwide attention,” WFP country director Mohamed Saleheen said.

Last month, WFP provided over 7,000 tons of food commodities to assist over 400,000 people in Indonesia alone. In February, more than 500,000 people will be assisted with rice, fortified noodles, biscuits, canned fish and vegetable oil.

The two couples, who arrived in Indonesia on 11 February, will end their visit tomorrow and the Toomers will continue on to Sri Lanka, the second-most devastated country, to help in reconstruction activities. They will be joined there by Kansas City Chiefs fullback Tony Richardson. Currently, WFP is helping to feed more than 850,000 people in Sri Lanka, with a large logistics network spread throughout the country.

“The fact that the NFL players are involved demonstrates their commitment and sympathy to the victims of this huge natural disaster. On behalf of the people we serve, we are very grateful to host them as part of the WFP team. Teamwork is the key to our success,” Mr. Saleheen said.

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