“Today” Series Breaking The Bank For Charity

By Chris Ariens 

If it’s Thursday, it’s Little Rock for Al Roker.

Tomorrow the “Today” show weatherman will be live from the Arkansas capital as part of his 8th annual “Lend a Hand Today.” During today’s stop in still hurricane-ravaged Galveston, TX, the show raised $540,652 in goods, services and cash – the biggest one-day total yet. That’s a far cry from the $50,000 raised during the series’ first go-’round eight years ago. And this year’s total will far surpass last year’s $1M haul. And Roker tells TVNewser tomorrow’s Little Rock stop working with a “food related charity” will top even today’s tally.

“We’re so thrilled at the idea that we could do this in this kind of economy,” said Roker after landing in Little Rock this afternoon. “It is really mind boggling.”

It’s been eight months since Roker last reported from Galveston, which was torn apart by Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008. “They’ve made a lot of progress, but there are still 13,000 people not in their homes,” he says.

Roker was in Los Angeles Monday; Portland Tuesday and will be in Charlotte, NC on Friday. He hopes the “Today” show stops lead to a greater goal. “We want there to be an uptick of people going to their local charities and giving where they can,” he says.

“We do all these different projects ‘Where in the World…’ ‘Today Takes a Vacation,’ but this is one that just doesn’t get old. We always find new ways to keep it fresh and help a community along the way.”