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How You Can Help UNICEF's Tap Project Bring Clean Water to Children

Posted: 03/26/10 07:47 PM ET

Imagine handing your child a glass of water -- it's brown, full of garbage, bacteria, things you wouldn't step in, let alone drink. This is the reality of millions of parents and children across the globe. Millions of people around the world are lacking basic necessities that we couldn't even picture living without.

It really pains me to imagine all the children around my son's age who are suffering for reasons that are completely preventable. They don't get the vaccines most of us take for granted. Or they don't have enough nutritious food to get them through the day. Or (and this one really gets me) the only water they have access to makes them sick, even kills them.

No matter what your thoughts are regarding health care reform -- we live in a country where fresh and clean water is readily accessible to all, a fact that we tend to take for granted. Becoming a father has made me hypersensitive to childrens' issues and has opened my mind to thinking what the world will be like when my son grows up. So, I became involved with UNICEF's Tap Project, which takes place every year during World Water Week, because of its simplicity and its scope. I'm proud to be part of a project that sheds light on how easy it is to provide clean water to people in need right now and for years to come.

For just $1, you can help kids get the clean water they need just by going out to eat. Go to a restaurant that participates in the Tap Project, and simply donate just a buck for the tap water you normally drink for free. It's such an easy way to do some good. That one dollar can provide a child with clean water for 40 days. Do it now, though -- the program lasts through Saturday, March 27.

Thousands of volunteers have worked to recruit restaurants and they're also holding community water walks, dinner parties, fundraisers and concerts. They're mobilizing any way they can to raise money and to spread the word about this global crisis -- more than 884 million people do not have access to clean water, and almost half of them are children.

Then there are the restaurant and bar folks. Owners, chefs, managers, hosts, waiters and bartenders are going out of their way to make the Tap Project a success. And I'm really proud that Angels & Kings, the bars I co-own in New York and Chicago, are participating as well.

This year, money raised through the Tap Project will support UNICEF water programs in the Central African Republic, Guatemala, Togo, Vietnam and Haiti. There are kids who walk miles a day to fetch water that still makes them sick. UNICEF is doing whatever it takes to help all children get access to clean, safe water. The money will pay for lifesaving equipment like wells, pumps, rainwater-harvesting systems, cheap but effective water filters, and much more. It will mean that more kids will grow up without needless suffering and that more kids will grow up period.

As this year's UNICEF Tap Project Spokesperson, I can't thank all those involved enough for giving time and cash to improve and save the lives of children. It's easy to ask people to step up and make a difference but it's also easy to look away and say change is impossible. Getting clean water to these people isn't impossible and making a difference isn't that hard.

To get involved and inspired, visit tapproject.org or listen to Tap Radio.