Hurricane Matthew devastated homes and businesses across Sampson County earlier this month — now a band, business and several agencies in the community are rallying around the victims through a concert whose proceeds will benefit those who need it.
Southeastern Outdoor Products is partnering with several Sampson County organizations to hold a Hurricane Matthew Disaster Relief Concert from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Sampson Agri-Exposition Center. The concert will feature the band East Coast Rhythm & Blues, who will be performing at no charge to benefit county residents impacted by Matthew.
All ticket sales and proceeds from the event are being contributed to the United Way of Sampson County, which will distribute resources to the local victims impacted by Matthew’s historic flooding in Sampson. Southeastern has also been manning a donation drop-off area at the Agri-Expo Center this week — and will do so through Saturday’s concert — to collect canned food, can openers, water, personal hygiene products, wheelchairs, medical equipment, Bibles and many other items.
Those items will go to Enlighten The World Ministries and Tim’s Gifts of Clinton, both non-profits. The many partnerships, sponsors, ticket sales spots and the concert planning itself has all been done within the past two weeks.
“It has been a whirlwind,” said Jordan White, who handles marketing and graphic design for Southeastern Outdoor Products in Clinton. White said she saw other business, including Ribeyes and others, reach out in the wake of Matthew to help the community. Southeastern sought to do that same.
“The Sampson County community was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew,” White said. “We were trying to think about something out of the box that could help people affected and whose homes were damaged or destroyed.”
Jordan’s father-in-law, Southeastern Outdoor Products owner Dana White, has a friend in East Coast Rhythm & Blues, based out of Spring Hope. That member, Jerry Blake, said the band wanted to help hurricane victims in a tangible way. He specifically mentioned the devastation in Sampson County. That was a mere two weeks ago when the ball started rolling.
“We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response,” said White, who noted the partnerships with Tim’s Gift and Enlighten the World Ministries, as well as the Southeastern employees who have manned the donation site. “We’re trying to fill up a big box truck of supplies.”
Pete Osborne, business development manager for Southeastern Outdoor Products, said the concert planning has been a gargantuan effort, one of which many have been a part.
“We’ve been working our butts off,” said Osborne, who credited the many agencies in Clinton and Sampson who have given their time, effort and resources to the benefit concert. Soon after Dana White talked with Blake, Osborne talked with Ray Jordan, executive director of the Agri-Expo Center, who gave the go-ahead for the concert to be held at the facility.
“That started it and we went from there,” Osborne said.
Southeastern Outdoor Products worked alongside tourism officials with the Sampson County Convention & Visitors Bureau in marketing the recent Cycle NC event, just two days before Matthew hit. But actually organizing a large-scale event with just 16 days notice was new to the company, Osborne noted.
“It’s just been a blessing. A lot of people have done a lot of things and it’s just snowballed,” Osborne said. “A lot of different people came together to make this happen. The Expo Center, the tourism department, all the agencies — there’s just been a lot of love from everyone.”
Southeastern Outdoor Products is based in Clinton, and has a sister company Quality Outdoor Products that has 18 locations several states. There is also another Southeastern Outdoor Products located in Lumberton, which was especially hard hit by Matthew. Osborne recalled seeing people in Lumberton with wheelbarrows hauling anything they could salvage from the wreckage that used to be their homes. The same scenes played out in Sampson.
“A lot of people have been devastated. It’s just terrible. Sampson County was hit and a lot of businesses have been hit hard. It’s been tough,” said Osborne. “This was a tough event to put on for a lot of people, but because Jesus lives, we can see tomorrow. A lot of people have talked to God that maybe hadn’t talked to him in a while. I think in a way the storm has made our community stronger.”
Osborne said Southeastern “likes to help the community when it can” with little fanfare, assisting with local fairs, 4-H events and various events like Cycle NC. He is still “beating on doors and accepting donations” for Matthew victims and stressed that the donation site will be open through Saturday’s concert for items and monetary contributions.
Those monetary contributions will go to the people in Sampson County that need it most, said Nancy Carr, executive director for United Way of Sampson County.
The local United Way, which was instrumental in distributing thousands of dollars worth of bottled water across the county in the days after Matthew, has set up a disaster relief fund and been in close contact with Emergency Management and Department of Social Services officials.
“We were very pleased that Southeastern Outdoor Products chose United Way to partner with for this disaster relief,” Carr said. “We are in the process of measuring unmet needs in the hardest hit areas. We are in a unique position to address those needs in a variety of ways.”
Keeping close constant with local agencies that have “boots on the ground” has helped the United Way establish target areas for disaster relief.
“Next week, we will be able to go out and get the supplies we need to be able to maximize the positive impact for as many people as possible,” Carr remarked.
Tickets for the concert are $10, and children 10 years and younger get in for free. There will also be a silent auction and 50/50 drawing. Tickets are available at the following locations:
• Piggly Wiggly (both Jordan Shopping Center and Shamrock Plaza locations); Tim’s Gift, 108 Northeast Blvd., Clinton; Clinton Appliance and Furniture Company, 401 Northeast Blvd., Clinton; Matthews Gifts, 352 Northeast Blvd., Clinton; Southeastern Outdoor Products, 714 Warsaw Road, Clinton; and the Sampson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 414 Warsaw Road, Clinton. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Additionally, those wishing to contribute can do so by bringing canned food items, other non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies and cash donations. Checks should be made payable to Sampson County United Way with “Hurricane Matthew” stated on the check. For more information, call 910-703-4565.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.