Group uses millennium as theme to raise money to help children; Baltimore campaign is part of worldwide charity fund drive


How should you spend your pay for the last hour of the last day of the 20th century?

The International Youth Foundation has a suggestion: Give the money to a charity for children.

The foundation will launch an international campaign today in Baltimore called "Children's Hour," aimed at collecting $200 million worldwide from workers who want to give what they earn in the last moments of 1999.

The campaign, which began last year in Britain as "Children's Promise," has garnered $100 million in pledges in that country alone.

Its expansion into Children's Hour, one of the largest fund-raising initiatives based on the concept of creating a charitable bridge from one millennium to the next, will feature appearances today in Baltimore by Queen Noor of Jordan and track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Rick R. Little, president and chief executive officer of the International Youth Foundation, says he got involved with Children's Hour to draw attention to the needs of older children and young adults around the world. "One of the things we struggle with is to get this agenda on the table," Little said. "Our contention is that youth are not only the future, they are our present."

The Baltimore-based group, a $34 million nonprofit organization, forms partnerships around the world to benefit children and youth ages 5 to 25.

The foundation is one of several groups seeking donations as 2000 draws near:

A campaign called Jubilee 2000 is using the occasion for an international movement seeking donations to help wipe out debts incurred by the world's poorest nations and urging lender nations to cancel those debts.

Global Volunteers, based in St. Paul, Minn., is signing up people to donate their time during the last week of the year for community projects.

Locally, the United Way of Central Maryland is asking donors to be part of a "Millennium Club" to which individuals will commit $100,000 or more to the charity each year for the next three years.

The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore last week kicked off a campaign to attract 2,000 new monetary donations for the year 2000.

"One is concerned, at the turn of a millennium, about how one crosses that divide," said Hillel Schwartz, a senior fellow at the Millennium Institute in Arlington, Va., and author of a book called "Century's End."

"Just saying 'millennium' doesn't mean you can get money from people," he said. "People are interested in moneys that go to projects which will keep working."

Children's Hour organizers will advertise two opportunities to give: The last hour of 1999 and the last hour of 2000, officially the final hour of the millennium.

"It's a unique vehicle for the corporations around the world to support a children's initiative that is so simple and so understandable and so emotive," said Arnold G. Langbo, an International Youth Foundation board member and chairman of Kellogg Co., which plans to match any Children's Hour donations given by its 14,000 employees worldwide. "It doesn't matter whether you're working in a fast-food restaurant or a CEO of one of the global companies. It treats everybody essentially equally, if you will."

Such companies as Kellogg, Deutsche Bank, Nike and the Danone Group, which makes Dannon yogurt, have pledged support. Deutsche Bank, parent company of BT Alex. Brown Inc., has pledged $500,000 toward the campaign, Little said, and is offering to cover administrative costs so that every dollar raised goes to programs.

The plan is for all of the Children's Hour pledges raised in developing countries to stay in those countries, while more affluent countries would contribute a third of what they collect for use in the Third World.

In the United States, the money will go to 12 established youth organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Camp Fire Boys and Girls, the National 4-H club and the YWCA.

Pub Date: 9/13/99

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