New ads promote volunteerism

— President Bush introduced a quirky new ad campaign Tuesday in which he stars alongside television, sports and political personalities in commercials designed to extend a post-Sept. 11 "culture of service" by inspiring more Americans to volunteer.

"You know, one of the main reasons people give for not volunteering is that no one has asked them to do so," Bush told an audience representing volunteer organizations, foundations and companies paying for the new ads and a redesigned federal Web site on service.

"I'm asking."

The four 30-second TV spots spoof the attempts of well-known American figures to get involved in their communities.

Actress Angie Harmon, for instance, presents herself as a former assistant district attorney in New York interested in working in legal aid, only to have the volunteer coordinator blow her cover. Harmon merely played a prosecutor on TV, in the show "Law and Order," and so the ad has her sent to teach children to spell "habeas corpus" instead.

All the ads end with Bush saying: "When you help your neighbors, you help your nation. Everyone can do something."

He issues the message in Spanish as well, in a Spanish-language version of a spot featuring New York Yankee Mariano Rivera.

The campaign also includes print and radio ads and Web banners.

The ads were paid for by the Walt Disney Co. and produced by the Ad Council for the USA Freedom Corps, a White House office created by Bush to coordinate federal efforts on volunteering.

USA Freedom Corps' new Web site has a searchable network of volunteer opportunities with more than 50,000 public and private organizations.

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