Weatherman to hand out donations to SF charity 

Weather personality Al Roker of NBC’s “Today” show will drive a Penske truck full of donated equipment to what he described as an “excellent” charity in a “great” neighborhood in The City before the sun rises Monday.

It is supposed to be a surprise.

Part of Roker’s annual Lend a Hand cross-country trip to five charities in five days starts Monday at 4 a.m. in The City for a live “Today” that airs at 7 a.m. on the East Coast. However, the charity won’t be revealed until the show’s second hour. It will be shown in San Francisco on tape after 8 a.m.

“I think people will be pleasantly surprised,” Roker said. “The idea of this whole exercise is to spur not just interests in specific charities if they can donate to it, but to donate their time. That’s the idea: to generate interest in charitable giving.”
Lend a Hand is in its ninth year, and this year has raised more than $3 million worth of equipment — the most it has raised to date — picked out specifically for the selected charities to keep them operating.

The charity started after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with about $50,000 worth of merchandise.

It will be the second time Lend a Hand visits The City, though it has surprised charities in Oakland and Richmond, too.

“We kind of have a big board full of cities,” Roker said. “Each producer has four or five charities that we like. We look at is a big puzzle ... and make our decisions.”

And his weather aficionados can stop biting their nails; Roker will still tape The Weather Channel’s “Wake Up With Al” the hour before the “Today” show.

“I’ll be up by 1 a.m.,” he said.

After Lend A Hand unloads its truck and spends some time with the chosen charity’s employees, the group is headed straight to San Francisco International Airport and getting on a flight to Bozeman, Mont.

As a result, Roker said he won’t be able to take the time enjoy any of The City’s treasures.

“You know, the thing is, there is no time to really do anything because of the nature of it,” he said.

Lend a Hand

Where the organization is stopping during its week of charitable giving:

Monday: San Francisco
Tuesday: Bozeman, Mont.
Wednesday: Des Moines, Iowa
Thursday: Memphis, Tenn.
Friday: Rye, N.H.

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