The incredible destructive force of Hurricane Katrina has left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands without their homes or a single possession. Relief efforts have been slow and difficult, especially in the city of New Orleans, which bore the horrific brunt of the storm's devastation. Four days after the hurricane struck, the National Guard has finally arrived in the flooded, sweltering city, but more help is still needed for the victims.
ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, UPN, and The WB are coming together to air an hour-long fundraising special called Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast on Friday, September 9. The commercial-free show will feature musical performances and celebrity appearances, but an official list of those involved has not yet been released. The special will be aired live on the East Coast at 8 p.m. and tape-delayed in the rest of the country.
The six networks plan to allow cable networks, radio stations, and broadband Internet providers to air the concert as well. NBC will air a separate benefit show on Friday, September 2, and BET is planning a telethon. MTV, VH1, and CMT are also preparing a relief concert, which will be broadcast on Saturday, September 10.
In addition to these organized efforts, many individual celebrities are flexing their muscles to aid those in need. Jay Leno will invite Tonight Show guests Samuel L. Jackson, Donald Trump, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba, Chris Rock, Denis Leary, and Nicollette Sheridan to sign a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that will then go to auction on eBay. Leno raised more than $1 million from similar auctions he put together for victims of last year's South Asian tsunami and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Ellen DeGeneres, who grew up in Louisiana and Mississippi and whose aunt lost her home in the tempest, will use the start of her daytime talk show's third season as a fundraising platform. Show producer Warner Bros. will donate $500,000 towards relief efforts, and then will match up to $500,000 of donations given by viewers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Other celebrities, like Hilary Duff and Nicolas Cage, have donated large sums of money from their personal accounts, and many more have offered to tape public-service announcements to encourage people to give.
American Idol has canceled its Memphis, Tennessee audition that was scheduled to occur on Monday, September 5 so that the city can deal with the influx of hurricane refugees who have been evacuated to the area.
To show your immediate support for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, visit the Network for Good, where you can learn about and donate to many charitable organizations that are helping those in need.