Musicians can put a lot of miles on their tour buses, but as two Oklahoma singer-songwriters discovered, they can also go a long way toward helping people in need.
After volunteering with cleanup efforts in Shawnee, singer-songwriter Carter Sampson decided to put her touring vehicle, a small motor home, to good use.
“I've been wanting to help from the minute I saw it happen on TV,” she said.
Beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sampson parked her tour bus in the parking lot of Partners, 2805 NW 36, and began collecting food, baby supplies, bottled water, dog food, plastic tubs and other items for people needing assistance after the Sunday tornado that hit Shawnee, Dale, Carney and other central Oklahoma towns. Sampson, a member of the Potawatomi Nation, is collecting on behalf of the tribe.
She said she is proud of the outpouring of generosity toward Moore residents following the EF5 tornado that hit the city on Monday, but she wants to do something for the residents affected by Sunday's storms, as well, and said filling her RV to the ceiling is a good place to start. Sampson said she will continue to collect supplies on Thursday.
“There's smaller towns out there that also need helping out,” Sampson said. “I think Shawnee lost 150 houses, and that's a lot of people affected.”
As Sampson was starting her collection drive, Okemah native Shawna Russell was just finishing her own efforts to help residents of Dale. The country singer spent Wednesday afternoon at Exit 212 on Interstate 40, loading up her “Willie Bus,” a tour bus she bought several years ago from Willie Nelson.
“There was so much tragedy and devastation that has gone on statewide since Sunday, we felt like we needed to do something,” Russell said.
“So we had the bus, and it's got lots of room, and we just put it out on social media that we were going to try to fill up the Willie Bus.”
Russell dropped off a full busload and some extra truckloads of cleaning supplies, food and other items shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday at Dale Public Schools, and she said she was happy with the results and the opportunity to help that community.
“We were just so thankful that so many people wanted to help out and do what they could,” she said.