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Apple contributes $5M to 'Hand in Hand' hurricane relief effort, to open donations this weekend

Satellite image of Hurricane Irma nearing Cuba. | Source: NOAA

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Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief on Friday announced a $5 million donation from Apple, which will be put toward ongoing Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Texas, as well as programs benefitting what is expected to be massive damage from the incoming Irma.

A benefit telethon scheduled to air live and commercial free on a number of networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, HBO, and Bravo, Hand in Hand seeks to raise funds for the millions of people impacted, or soon to be impacted, by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Apple's $5 million contribution matches a donation from show underwriters the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and doubles that of a pledge from founding sponsor Verizon.

"On behalf of everyone at Apple, our hearts go out to the millions of people whose lives have been disrupted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the many more still bracing for Irma's impact," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "We applaud Hand in Hand for bringing together people from all over the country to help one another at a time when so many desperately need it. In addition to Apple's direct contribution to the relief and recovery efforts, we're making it easy for anyone in the US to make their own donations to Hand in Hand through the App Store and iTunes."

A number of celebrities have been confirmed to take part in the special Hand in Hand event. Variety compiled a lineup of participants, which include Anthony Anderson, Bun B, J Balvin, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Connie Britton, George Clooney, Andy Cohen, Stephen Colbert, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Terry Crews, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Drake, Hilary Duff, Jourdan Dunn, Jamie Foxx, Richard Gere, Tom Hanks, Marcia Gay Harden, Faith Hill, Kate Hudson, Dwayne Johnson, Joe Jonas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nicole Kidman, Karlie Kloss, , Matt Lauer, Jay Leno, Zion & Lennox, Jared Leto, Eva Longoria, Rob Lowe, Matthew McConaughey, Tim McGraw, Tracy Morgan, Norah O'Donnell, Gerardo Ortiz, Chris Paul, Tyler Perry, Dennis Quaid, Questlove, Jeremy Renner, Julia Roberts, Kelly Rowland, Adam Sandler, Ryan Seacrest, Blake Shelton, David Spade, Gwen Stefani, Michael Strahan, George Strait, Barbra Streisand, Sofia Vergara, Kerry Washington, Chandra Wilson, Oprah Winfrey, Rita Wilson and Reese Witherspoon. The list is expected to grow in the coming days.

According to the report, the telecast will jump between historic locations around the U.S. including Times Square in New York, Universal Studios in Los Angeles, the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, and the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio. Along with broadcast TV, Hand in Hand is being live-streamed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Apple just last week opened iTunes donations to support Hurricane Harvey relief led by the American Red Cross. The effort helped raise more than $3 million, including a $2 million pledge by Apple itself.

On the ground, Apple dispatched its global crisis management team to help Texas based employees impacted by ongoing flooding. Due to the storm, the company closed its retail stores in the Houston region, suggesting it will do the same for outlets in Florida expected to be hit by Hurricane Irma.