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Group Plans Hand-In-Hand Link-up Of 10 Million Across America

October 23, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ Up to 10 million people are to link arms from New York to California next Memorial Day weekend to raise money for the poor in what organizers are calling the largest participatory charity event in history,

The same people who produced ″We Are The World″ announced Tuesday that they will sponsor ″Hands Across America,″ in which 6 million to 10 million people will create a human chain across the nation.

Participants will pay at least $10 each. United Support of Artists for Africa, better known as USA for Africa, said the event would raise $60 million to $100 million to ease domestic hunger and homelessness.

″This will demonstrate that when America stands together, we can accomplish anything,″ said Ken Kragen, president of the non-profit organization, which raised $33 million for famine relief projects in Africa through its multi-artist recording ″We are the World.″

Larry Brown, executive director of Harvard’s Community Health Program and a member of the USA for Africa medical task force, said 20 million Americans are hungry at some time each month and 34 million live in poverty.

″We have a crisis in this nation ... hunger in a land of plenty,″ Brown said. ″We have to respond to this epidemic.″

The ″Hands Across America″ project will link people along a 4,000 mile route from Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan through 17 states and Washington, D.C. to a spot along the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles. In addition, organizers said, there will be a circle of people around the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Participants are to sing ″America the Beautiful″ and ″We Are The World″ at 3 p.m. on May 25, 1986, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

Details of the route and other logistics were not released.

Participants will contribute a minimum of $10 to guarantee a space in line. For a $25 contribution a participant will receive a visor and radio with the ″Hands Across America″ logo; and $35 or more will add a T-shirt. Participants will receive a map indicating a designated mile to report to.

Ten percent of the money raised from the project will go for emergency assistance; 50 percent will go for program support and development, and 40 percent will be used to promote self-sufficiency through farmers’ co-ops and community job programs, said Marty Rogol, executive director of USA for Africa.

The Coca-Cola Co. is helping to underwrite the anticipated $18.8 million cost, the organizers said, and other sponsors are being sought.

The initial co-chairmen of ″Hands Across America″ are Bill Cosby, Kenny Rogers and Pete Rose. Other celebrities also have pledged their support.

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