Exclusive: Carrie Underwood fans rally together for 4th Annual Fan Club Volunteer Event at Second Harvest Food Bank

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Carrie Underwood has taught her fans incredibly valuable lessons over the years, and that doesn't involve her music (see: "So Small"). Over the past year, Carrie has made several more-than-generous donations to various organizations and communities — the most recent was a $1 million donation following the devastating string of tornadoes that ravaged her home state of Oklahoma.

During this year's CMA Music Festival, fan club members — fronted by event founder Dustin Burton, along with avid fans and team members MaryLee Teneyuque Huerta and Buffy Burton — gathered together at the Second Harvest Food Bank to donate of their time to help sort and package food for starving families. Quite the admirable and touching contribution, 50 fans from all over the Country came out to support the cause.

On why he began this event, Dustin said, "Honestly, as soon as Carrie's album ['Play On'], was released I listened to the whole album and 'Change' just kept at [speaking] out to me. Carrie soon went on to performing that song live on 'American Idol' during 'Idol Gives Back' and also on CNN's HEROS special around Thanksgiving time. I just couldn't stop listening to this song and get it off my mind."

"I felt something that really pushed me to start brain storming ideas that I personally could do to help change the world," he continued. "As Carrie says, 'The smallest things can make all the difference.' So I really wasn't brain storming any major ideas."

 

"I have a passion for the Grand Ole Opry, I love that place and I feel at home when I'm there and during the Nashville Flood I was watching the news and seeing Nashville, the Opry House, and neighbors completely flooded…I couldn't believe it," he said. "That's when I knew I had to do something to help make Nashville a better place from this flood. One day it just hit me! Organize a group of Carrie fans to volunteer in Nashville to help make a difference for that community. I started researching organizations that need volunteers and I stumbled upon Second Harvest. I immediately called them and asked if they needed help and as you can imagine they certainly did."

 

Not too surprisingly, the idea took off like wildfire on social media. Dustin noted, "I started putting the word out there on Carrie's Fan Club Message Boards and on Twitter and Facebook, and it took off like crazy! The first two years Second Harvest gave us a limit of 30 people in our group and those spots quickly filled up. The last two years we were able to bring 50 people, and I'm blessed to report all 4 years were completely full!"
 
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He added, "That's how amazing Carrie's fans are — this is really people donating their vacation time to make a difference! You just don't see that too often in this world anymore. This is the difference Carrie is making on her fan's lives. I hope she realizes this."
Next year's volunteer event has already been set for June 4, 2014. Dustin hopes to continue bringing in more volunteers that want to make a difference. "As of now we don't have anything set in stone, we are still in the brain storming stage. [We want] to allow everyone who requests to volunteer a chance to volunteer and not turn anyone away after reaching 50 people. I think that would be something special!"
"Obviously we'd love to get Carrie more involved," he added. "I can report that as long as their schedule allows, Two Story Road [comprised of Jamelle and Brandon Fraley] will be coming back in 2014 for our 5th Annual Event!"
 
MaryLee chimed in, "After the flood in May 2010, as Carrie fans, we wanted to do something while attending CMAF on carrie's behalf to give back to the community. Dustin selected Second Harvest."
 
The most surprising thing, she said, is how many people actually want to be involved. She explained, "I especially love the addition of Two  Story Road to our event this year! Brandon and Jamelle have been an added blessing to our event and we look forward to their continued support. Oh yeah, and Carrie tweeting a pic of this years T-shirt from her Twitter account was the biggest surprise of all!! Thank you Carrie!! Those tweets definitely were the icing on the cake for Dustin and I this year."
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"I was brought up in a single family Christian home and my mom raised me to be a strong independent person who will always give back and support others," MaryLee added. "So the fact that I am able to help others and give back to the community just warms my heart knowing that I am able to make a difference and change someone else's life even though it's just taking a few hours of my time.  Blessing others is worth any amount of time just to know I've helped someone else."
Anyone looking to get involved with this cause can check the specially created Twitter and Facebook pages. Of course, you can also give back on Second Harvest's official website.
Photo Credits: Buffy Burton
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