Yoko Ono and Run-D.M.C.'s Darryl McDaniels were joined by young Hurricane Sandy victims at the Hard Rock Cafe in Midtown Manhattan Monday to mark the fifth annual Imagine There's No Hunger campaign, which combats childhood hunger and poverty.
"I know what it means to be hungry," Ono told Rolling Stone. "In the Second World War, I was a little girl. I was evacuated in my country. We were very hungry. I just don't want the children to have that experience."
For the past five years, Ono has lent her support to the WhyHunger organization, which works on the grassroots level in 15 countries to feed more than 5 million kids. The group also teaches families to be self-sustaining by growing their own food.
Serving as an artist ambassador for the campaign this year was D.M.C., who traveled to Kenya to witness firsthand how the WhyHunger program assists children in need.
"They're teaching these young people how to grow their own food. It makes a lot of sense," D.M.C. told Rolling Stone. "If I eat, you should eat too, which is why we created hip-hop in the Bronx, many years ago.
"Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation looked around and said, 'We gotta stop killing each other, fighting for corners and streets. Let's do something creatively, where everybody could eat.' We were young people who took it upon ourselves to do it."
After the recent devastation from Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey, the campaign decided to donate some of the proceeds to victims of the storm. On hand Monday were members of the Added Value organization in Red Hook, Brooklyn, whose community farm was devastated by the storm.
"They got wiped out," said Bill Ayres, Executive Director of WhyHunger. "Their infrastructure got wiped out. Their crop got wiped out. So we're going to help them."
As an appropriate salute, the Times Square Alliance has decided to promote the Imagine campaign during their New Year's festivitie. They play John Lennon's "Imagine" just before the ball drops at midnight every year.
"It's a moment when everyone takes a deep breath," said Tim Tompkins, president of the alliance. "It's what New Year's is about – hope for the future. People imagine a better life for themselves and for others."
The "whole purpose" of Lennon's iconic song, said D.M.C., is "everything we can imagine can come true. I sat in my basement – 'Imagine if I'd be the king of rock one day, one of the greatest MCs ever.' Boom!"
For Ono as well, "Imagine" serves as an inspiration and a call to action, even after all that's taken place since its inception in 1971.
"There's been incredible progress," she said. "Each person wants to do something on their own. I hope that we will find a way to get together – in our minds, even – and really create a beautiful future for us."