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Concert to help Sandy victims raises nearly $23 million, Red Cross and NBCUniversal say

A live televised concert to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy brought in nearly $23 million, the American Red Cross and NBCUniversal said Saturday.

The Red Cross said website and phone traffic exceeded that of telethons supporting the charity over the previous five years.

 “We are incredibly grateful and humbled by this outpouring of support for those who are suffering as a result of Superstorm Sandy,” American Red Cross Chief Marketing Officer Peggy Dyer said in a statement.

The one-hour, commercial-free telecast organized by NBCUniversal, "Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together," included appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jimmy Fallon, Steven Tyler, Mary J. Blige, Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny DeVito and NBC News' Brian Williams. TODAY co-anchor Matt Lauer was host.

"We haven't seen a storm like this in 100 years," said Lauer.

The show also featured Bon Jovi surveying the devastation in New Jersey. He then performed an unplugged version of "Living on a Prayer." Images of the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy were also interspersed throughout the show, along with victims pleading for aid, reminding viewers just how immense the damage was.

"New Jersey was hit really hard. Some beaches were destroyed. Boardwalks were torn apart. But they will be rebuilt," said late-night host Fallon. "This song is dedicated to all the good times ahead." He then joined Tyler,  Joel and Springsteen for an upbeat cover of "Under the Boardwalk."

The stars reminded those affected by the storm that people care. 

"My prayers go out to everyone who was affected by the hurricane," Mary J. Blige said. "Things are gonna get better, so please hang in there, be strong and have faith. And please, everybody watching tonight, give something, anything. Every penny counts." She performed "The Living Proof," a song she wrote about surviving difficult times and the brighter days ahead.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band closed the show on a message of hope with a rousing rendition of their tune "Land of Hope and Dreams."

Money collected during the concert will be donated to the American Red Cross relief efforts. The Red Cross is providing shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those impacted by disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

To donate, visit RedCross.org, call 1-800-HELPNOW or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

This article includes reporting by Reuters.

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