Just in time for the holiday season, a time when charitable giving increases, NFL players have joined FWD, a national public awareness campaign designed to inform Americans of the extreme famine, war and drought in the Horn of Africa.

Developed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ad Council, the FWD campaign encourages Americans to forward the facts about the crisis and to donate to the relief efforts.

“Right now, the famine, war and drought in the Horn of Africa is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, impacting more than 13 million people,” said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. “As lives and livelihoods are threatened, USAID and its partners are working to increase awareness of the crisis and urge people to act and support relief efforts.”

The new television PSAs, taped in November, feature Ray Lewis, Linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens; Asante Samuel, Cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles; Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles; Maurice Jones-Drew, Running Back for the Jacksonville Jaguars; Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver for the Green Bay Packers; Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver for the Arizona Cardinals; Josh Freeman, Quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Lamarr Woodley, Linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers; Matt Forte, Halfback for the Chicago Bears and Jeff Saturday, Center for the Indianapolis Colts.

“Given the magnitude of the number of people impacted by the crisis in the Horn of Africa, it was a privilege to be called upon, along with other players in the NFL, to increase awareness about this tragedy,” said Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. “I would encourage all NFL fans to join us by FWDing the facts to their family and friends to provide aid to those in need in Africa.”

Launched in October, FWD – an acronym for famine, war and drought – is a multimedia campaign which aims to encourage Americans to spread awareness of the crisis in the Horn of Africa, support the humanitarian organizations conducting relief operations and learn more about the solutions through President Obama's Feed the Future initiative. The United States Government initiative addresses the root causes of chronic hunger by helping to foster better farming, stronger markets and greater resilience to climate shocks.

The PSAs, developed by the Ad Council and volunteer advertising agency R/GA, direct audiences to text GIVE to 777444 to donate $10 to a consortium of humanitarian organizations working in the Horn of Africa, comprised of American Refugee Committee, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, UNICEF USA, World Vision and World Food Program USA. Audiences are also directed to visit www.usaid.gov/FWD to find more information about the crisis and a listing of U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations working in the Horn of Africa that are accepting donations to aid in disaster relief. In addition to the traditional PSAs, the campaign includes an extensive social media program via USAID’s Facebook and Twitter channels, as well as blogs and other sites.

“Teaming up with USAID and the Ad Council on this campaign has broadened my awareness of the human suffering caused by the famine, war and drought in the Horn of Africa” said Ray Lewis, Linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. “Join us in this important campaign. Spread the word, make a donation and know that together, we can make a difference.”

Since its launch, the FWD campaign has garnered over 117 million social media fact shares and reached 18 million people on Twitter and 50 million on Facebook. Previous PSAs for the campaign have featured Dr. Jill Biden, actors Uma Thurman, Josh Hartnett, Geena Davis and Chanel Iman and writer and television host Anthony Bourdain.

“The support of the American people is critical in bolstering the relief efforts of the organizations responding to the devastating emergency in the Horn of Africa,” said Peggy Conlon, president & CEO of the Ad Council. “We are thrilled that the NFL has joined forces with us to help spread the word and encourage more Americans to get involved.”

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