Giving Clay Aiken His Due

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NOTE: American Idol Worship would like to apologize for its previous remarks about Clay Aiken that some fans have taken exception to. While it was never our intent to disparage Clay, we realize that our attempt at humor was in poor taste and we would like to formally apologize to both the singer and his legions of fans.

Clay Aiken: UNICEF Ambassador

It has been suggested by one fan that we highlight Clay's charitable work, and it is our pleasure to give the 27-year-old his due.

Apart from his music career, Clay has dedicated himself to education and children's causes across the world. Few people can match his amazing record of giving and we feel all American Idol fans should be made aware of it, as he is helping make the world a better place.

His interest in autism issues led him, along with Diane Bubel (whose son Michael is autistic, and was tutored by Aiken), to found the Bubel/Aiken Foundation (BAF), which supports the integration of disabled children into the life environment of their non-disabled peers. The BAF, which was given a $500,000 grant from the U.S. government, runs summer camps which reflect this mission, and also presents awards to volunteer efforts of children with physical and mental disabilities.

Aiken has often donated his time and voice to benefit events and concerts, including the 2004 Rosalynn Carter Benefit, the America's Promise Benefit, and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and the "Arthur Celebrity Audiobook (Stories for Heroes Series)," which benefits the BAF and other charities.

Clay was a proud spokesman of the 2004 Toys for Tots drive, and remains an ambassador for the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). In addition, Aiken donated his clothes from his American Idol performance on March 11, 2003 to the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

In 2004, he was appointed UNICEF National Ambassador by the U.S., with a mission to help ensure that children everywhere are afforded a primary education. Through his work with UNICEF, Aiken participated in the NBC4 telethon, which raised over $10 million, and recorded public service announcements in support of South Asian tsunami relief.

In March 2005, UNICEF sent Aiken to tsunami-stricken Banda Aceh area to raise awareness for the need to restore education quickly to the children who survived this disaster, in order to provide stability in a time of great loss. In April 2005, on behalf of UNICEF, he appeared before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs of the Committee on Appropriations.

In May 2005, UNICEF sent Aiken on another mission, to northern Uganda, to witness the plight of children called "night commuters," who flee the villages each night to sleep in streets and shelters in hopes of avoiding being kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army [LRA]. Aiken was the 2005 spokesperson for the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF drive.

Aiken continues to devote his time and energy to some of the world's most important causes and we at American Idol Worship would like to commend him for his efforts.

You da man, Clay.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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