Business, government, civic, and church leaders are once again coming together in support of children’s causes as they relaunched on Aug. 14 the Philippines’ participation in Children’s Hour, a fund-raising campaign to call attention to the needs of youth and children.

This is not the first time that leaders of various sectors are throwing their support behind Children’s Hour. The program, which began in the United Kingdom and participated by 20 countries, was launched in the Philippines in 1999. Numerous individuals, government officials, and about 400 corporations helped raised close to P40 million, indicating a high level of social consciousness across sectors. It has since been hailed as one of the most successful in the world in terms of donations gathered and the variety of marketing programs.

This year, Children’s Hour is inviting business leaders to be CEO champions who will make it a regular vehicle for raising funds for children in their companies. Children’s Hour works on a simple mechanism that encourages individuals and companies to donate one hour’s worth of earnings for the benefit of children’s causes.

The funds are being invested in carefully selected projects addressing child abuse and deprivation as well as health care and education programs. Locally, Children’s Hour has helped over 88,000 Filipino children and youth through hospitals and organizations that provide preventive and rehabilitative services, temporary shelter, feeding and nutrition programs and education.

Former president Corazon C. Aquino, honorary chair, joined the leaders of various sectors in the relaunch activities of Children’s Hour on Aug. 14 at the Glorietta Activity Center in Ayala Center, Makati.

Observed Aquino: “We are a nation that recognizes the immense power of the youth. These socially aware and socially active people will in the future take positions of responsibility in government, private sector, and civil society. We must continue to take an active role in providing them the opportunity to achieve their full potential.”

Leaders from business, media, government and the church have responded to Aquino’s initiative by being part of the Children’s Hour steering committee this year. These include Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala as chair, Gina Lopez as vice-chair, Emily Abrera, Corazon Alma de Leon, Ramon R. del Rosario, Renato S. de Villa, Carlos Dominguez, Susana A.S. Madrigal, Narcisa L. Escaler, Bob D. Gothong. Other members are Patricia B. Licuanan, Guillermo M. Luz, Justo A. Ortiz, Marianne G. Quebral, Ma. Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez, Pedro E. Roxas, Bienvenido A. Tan Jr., and Bishop Socrates Villegas.

At a press conference hosted by the Children’s Hour steering committee, business and civil society leaders took the opportunity to get to know some of the beneficiaries of Children’s Hour. The children sang a special number for the guests, who in turn spent a few minutes with the kids as they created artworks and read storybooks. Zobel hoped to replicate the success of the Children’s Hour campaign in 1999 by inviting more business leaders to champion the cause. Said Zobel: “We wish to build on the wellspring of generosity to relaunch the Children’s Hour to give them once again an opportunity to champion the cause of children among their employees and company executives. We can then advocate among other companies to come and join us in this campaign to save our children from illiteracy, homelessness, hunger and abuse.”