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Parks and Recreation reunion raises almost $3 million for coronavirus relief

Parks and Recreation returned for a reunion special this week that was literally everything fans could have dreamed of — and it raised enough money for charity to make Li'l Sebastian proud.

The cast of the beloved sitcom reunited on NBC Thursday night for a special remotely-produced fundraiser episode, which followed Leslie Knope's efforts to stay connected with her friends during the coronavirus pandemic. The special has thus far raised $2.8 million for Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund, Variety reports, although there's still time to donate. State Farm, Subaru of America, NBCUniversal, and the cast and crew of Parks and Recreation matched donations up to $500,000.

Critics and fans praised the Parks and Recreation reunion as exactly the positivity they needed during the crisis, and the episode was packed to the brim with delightful fan service and cameos. Not only did the special check in on what all the main characters have been up to, but it also featured lots of Pawnee favorites, from Bobby Newport and Jean-Ralphio Saperstein to Dennis Feinstein and Perd Hapley. The whole thing culminated in a group performance of Andy Dwyer's unforgettable Li'l Sebastian tribute song "5,000 Candles in the Wind," during which Ron Swanson could hardly contain his emotions. And can you really blame him?

The Parks special also stressed the importance of self-care amid social distancing, ending with an out-of-character message promoting both Feeding America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Co-creator Michael Schur explained to Entertainment Weekly that since Leslie Knope on Parks always "believed wholeheartedly in the power of interpersonal connection and in the power of structures to provide comfort and service in times of crisis," it seemed like the perfect time for a reunion, as the "themes of the world right now are very much in line with the themes of the show."

The entire Parks and Recreation reunion is available to watch for free on YouTube.