Americans opened up their wallets on Tuesday night (September 12th), pouring in donations for the Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief telethon to the tune of more than $44 million. The one-hour prime-time event organized by manager Scooter Braun and Houston rapper Bun B and featuring appearances by Justin Timberlake, Pastor John Gray, Dave Matthews, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Justin Bieber, Gwen Stefani, George Clooney and many more was organized to provide aid to residents of Texas and Florida impacted by hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
During the event, The Late Show host Stephen Colbert announced that Apple would donate $5 million to the cause, with Albertsons Cos. and Merck each offering up $1 million each. Houston Rockets star Chris Paul also revealed that in addition to his $20,000 donation, the NBA Players Association would be adding $500,000, plus matching any professional basketball player’s donation up to $20,000.
The two hurricanes are projected to have caused up to $200 billion in damage, pushing tens of thousands of Florida and Texas residents out of their flood-damaged homes in addition to trashing more than one million vehicles and doing serious damage to vital infrastructure in both states. The telethon aired on all four major networks, as well as a dozen other cable networks and featured pleas for donations from Texas natives Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland, as well as Cher and Sean “Diddy” Combs, with performances by Usher and Blake Shelton, Stevie Wonder, Luis Fonsi and Tori Kelly, Matthews, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett and Demi Lovato, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and CeCe Winans.
Dozens of celebrities have donated to hurricane relief and on Wednesday, September 13th it was announced that Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt and many more will take part in the all-star Harvey Can’t Mess with Texas: A Benefit Concert for Hurricane Harvey Relief show on Sept. 22 in Austin, Texas. The event will take place at the Frank Erwin Center from 7-11 p.m. ET and be broadcast on 11 Texas TEGNA stations and stream internationally on YouTube.com/Texas Strong from 9-10 p.m. CT.
Donations are still being accepted by phone, text and online, so visit the Hand in Hand website to do your part.