Typhoon Haiyan left a path of destruction and despair in the Philippines, and Major League Baseball joined the international relief effort on Thursday by announcing a donation of $200,000 to UNICEF and the American Red Cross.
MLB also is activating its fan base by encouraging support of UNICEF and the Red Cross via public-service announcements, programming mentions and editorial coverage on MLB.com and MLB Network.
"Major League Baseball is eager to support the relief efforts assisting the people of the Philippines who have suffered because of this tragic storm," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Millions of people, including many children, have been affected by this storm, and we encourage others to contribute to the essential work of both UNICEF and the Red Cross in helping the country recover during this most difficult time."
"Major League Baseball has been a true friend to the world's children in their time of need," said Caryl Stern, president and CEO, U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, some five million children have lost their homes, schools and communities. MLB not only asked fans to support UNICEF's response, but today they have made a generous gift to help fuel the relief so desperately needed. On behalf of the children who've endured the strongest storm in history, we thank MLB and its fans for the support."
MLB.com will support relief efforts with editorial coverage, social-media outreach and prominently displayed links to the UNICEF and Red Cross websites, where fans can make contributions online. MLB Network will also provide information across its studio programming about the work being done by UNICEF and the American Red Cross and encourage viewers to donate.
"The generous support of Major League Baseball will help the Red Cross support people affected by Typhoon Haiyan, both in the emergency response and as people and communities work to rebuild their lives," said Neal Litvack, chief development officer at the American Red Cross.
The death toll in the Philippines has risen to more than 2,000, according to a national count kept by the disaster agency. That figure is expected to rise, perhaps significantly, when accurate information is collected from the disaster zone.
The United Nations has launched an appeal for $301 million to help relief efforts. An estimated 11.5 million people have been affected, with at least 545,000 displaced.
The southeast portion of the Philippines was the worst hit by the typhoon, which registered winds of up to 235 mph. Weather forecasters said they believed it was the strongest storm ever to hit land.
Tacloban, a city of about 220,000 people on the island of Leyte, is largely in ruins after bearing the full force of the winds and storm surge. Malls, garages and shops were stripped of food and water by hungry residents. Subsequent Tropical Depression Zoraida and a moderate earthquake in the region further complicated recovery and relief efforts.
The USS George Washington aircraft carrier arrived in the Philippines on Thursday to boost international efforts to provide aid and relief. The ship is part of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet and is accompanied by seven other ships that make up the George Washington Strike Group. The aircraft carrier has a crew of 5,500 and brings with it 21 helicopters, which can be used to ferry goods to hard-to-reach areas where people have seen no aid since the disaster.
President Barack Obama urged Americans to support relief efforts in the battered area.
"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of the Philippines as they mourn so many loved ones and neighbors lost in the awful destruction of Typhoon Haiyan," Obama said on Wednesday. "Here in the United States, we're offering our support to our fellow Filipino-Americans who are worried for family and friends back home.
"The friendship between our two countries runs deep, and when our friends are in trouble, America helps."
Additional information is available at MLBCommunity.org.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story contains information from international news services.