Al Roker, the weather anchor for NBC’s “Today,” will be broadcasting from Memphis on June 24 where he will make donations to a nonprofit organization as part of the annual “Lend a Hand Today” trip.
The organization receiving the donations won’t be announced until the broadcast. The gift will be a surprise so officials with charitable organizations should be on the lookout for a Penske truck.
That’s how the donated items arrive.
“When we started this nine years ago, we donated $50,000 worth of items over five cities the first five days,” Roker said. “This year, we’ve got more than $3.2 million in donations.”
The broadcast will also feature Nashville, which was not originally on the itinerary.
“Actually for the first time in our (Lend a Hand Today) history, we are doing two cities in one day,” he said. “We are doing you guys and Nashville because of the flooding that happened there this year. That’s a first for us.”
The other cities are San Francisco; Bozeman, Mont.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Rye, N.H.
Several companies have donated items for the program, including Gymboree, Expo, Columbia Sportswear Co., Lowes, Ethan Allen, JanSport, Western Union, Sara Lee, Kool-Aid, Toyota, GM and Glidden Paint.
The donated items vary from city to city.
“We tailor it to each individual charity,” Roker said. “We find out what they need through a fairly surreptitious means. We then go out and solicit those donations from vendors. We have kind of an overarching producer who works the phones and tries to get what those people need, whether it is office supplies, garden supplies, kids clothing or sporting goods. It runs the gamut, depending upon what the charity does.”
Roker will be joined at the broadcast from Memphis with Mike Mills, a three-time grand world champion at the Memphis In May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Mills owns Memphis Championship BBQ in Las Vegas and 17th Street Bar and Grille in Southern Illinois.
Another special guest will be the mascot for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Roker has visited Memphis numerous times before.
“I’ve been there for storms, been there for Memphis in May and everything in between,” he said.
After the “Today” show broadcast, fans of the show can log on to Todayshow.com for more information about the featured charity and learn how they can also help. The site also will have a complete list of all companies that have donated to “Lend a Hand.”
Besides being the weather anchor for “Today,” Roker this year began hosting the “Wake Up With Al” show on NBC Universal-owned The Weather Channel, which comes on just before the “Today” broadcast. ...