The "Hand in Hand" hurricane relief benefit is estimated to have raised more than $55 million for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The star-studded telethon was broadcast on Sept. 12 and raised $14 million in the first hour, organizers said today, and within a few hours increased that amount to $44 million.
Comic Relief USA will manage the grants made from the telethon and distribute them to charities including the Rebuild Texas Fund, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, Feeding Florida, Feeding Texas, Direct Relief, ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, United Way of Greater Houston, United Way Irma Recovery Fund and the Mayor's Fund for Hurricane Harvey Relief, which is administered through the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
"It has been truly amazing to witness the reactions in our country in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma," said Scooter Braun, the founder of SB Projects and an executive producer of "Hand in Hand." "In the aftermath of tragedy, it’s important that we take action and care for our neighbors. There is still so much rebuilding to be done and our hope is to not only continue to raise funds, but also inspire others to do what they can to help. People are still in need and will continue to be for a very long time. We all need to do our part."
The "Hand in Hand" benefit featured performances from Usher and Blake Shelton; George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett; and Luis Fonsi and Tori Kelly, among others. Celebrities including Kerry Washington, Oprah Winfrey and Justin Timberlake shared stories of those affected by the storms, while other stars like Justin Bieber, George Clooney and Sofia Vergara manned phone lines to take donations.
"Natural disasters don’t discriminate. They don’t see if you’re an immigrant, black or white, Hispanic or Asian, Jewish or Muslim, wealthy or poor. It doesn’t matter if you’re from [Houston neighborhoods] Third Ward or River Oaks, we’re all in this together," Beyonce, a Houston native, said in a taped message.
"We can't bring back what they lost, but we can help them know where to take the next step and provide some solid footing for them to place their next foot. A path to stability. To a place where they can rebuild," Matthew McConaughey said. "This is what they need and this is what we can give them."