NEW YORK (AP) — Dozens of stars turned out to sing, tell stories and plead for support for hurricane victims on Tuesday, in a one-hour televised benefit that had raised $14.5 million by the time cameras were turned off. With Stevie Wonder singing “Lean on Me” and Usher and Blake Shelton joining for “Stand By Me,” the message was clear: Americans were being asked to help those whose lives were upended by wind and rain. Justin Bieber, George Clooney, Barbra Streisand, Al Pacino, Lupita Nyong’o, Jay Leno and dozens of others sat at phone banks to accept donations. Beyonce, Will Smith and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sent in taped pleas for support during the event, shown on more than a dozen television networks and online simultaneously. Originally conceived as a benefit for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the “Hand in Hand” telethon was expanded to help people in Florida and the Caribbean devastated in recent days by Irma.
Celebrities requested donations, told heartwarming survival stories involving people caught in the storm and sang songs. Several organizations will benefit, including the United Way and Save the Children. The night’s final performance — a tribute to Texans by George Strait, Robert Earl Keen, Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert and Lyle Lovett — from San Antonio.
Donations were announced from some deep pockets. Computer maker Michael Dell and his wife Susan pledged to match the first $10 million in donations Tuesday. They’ve given a total of $41 million to the Rebuild Texas Fund. Basketball star Chris Paul gave $20,000 and said the NBA Players Association would match donations of up to the same amount given by any NBA player.
Announcing Apple’s promise to give $5 million, comic Stephen Colbert quipped said it was coincidentally “also the price of the new iPhone.”