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Hand in Hand benefit: George Clooney, Oprah, Justin Bieber make TV appeal for hurricane relief

Hand in Hand benefit: George Clooney, Oprah, Justin Bieber make TV appeal for hurricane relief
From CBC - September 13, 2017

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 organizers said raised more than $44 million (all figures US), with donations still being accepted.

With Stevie Wonder singing Lean on Meand 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. Beyonc, 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.

We are here to raise money, lift some spirits," said Jamie Foxx, standing with actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

"When tough times hit, this is who we are. We are compassionate. We are unstoppable."

The quick-moving show took a form familiar to viewers since a sad template was set in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks. 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.

Multiple locations

Stages in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville were filled simultaneously, although the night's final performancea tribute to Texans by George Strait, Robert Earl Keen, Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert and Lyle Lovettoriginated from San Antonio.

Despacitosinger Luis Fonsi and Tori Kelly performed Hallelujahtogether. Dave Matthews picked his guitar from a studio above Times Square, and Darius Rucker, Brad Paisley, Demi Lovato and Cece Winans sang the Beatles' With a Little Help From My Friends.Wonder, backed by a gospel chorus, opened the show with the Bill Withers classic.

"Natural disasters do not discriminate," Beyonc said. "They do not care if you are an immigrant, black or white, Hispanic or Asian, Jewish or Muslim, wealthy or poor."

Cher and Oprah Winfrey told the story behind a frequently-seen picture of strangers forming a human chain to save someone from flooding in Houston.

Usually competitive network morning personalities Matt Lauer, Norah O'Donnell and Michael Strahan stood before a satellite image of an ominous Irma to describe devastation that the storm had caused.

Rising donations

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 have 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.

'Helpless is an understatement'

'People want to give...people want to help. And you do not have to be a celebrity to do it.' - Scooter Braun

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