Jimmy Wayne

LHJ / CMT Do Good Volunteer Day at Second Harvest

June 16, 2011 at 9:15 am , by

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Crystal Bowersox and Brian Walker at Second Harvest.

For the second year in a row, Ladies’ Home Journal kicked off CMA Music Festival week by hosting a volunteer afternoon at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. This year, though, the afternoon also served as a kickoff for our brand spankin’ new partnership with CMT One Country. Click here to read about how our partnership’s Do Good Rewards program can lead to you winning a trip to the CMT Music Awards in Nashville next year!)

We had some amazing musical talent lending us their muscles and elbow grease for the afternoon, including Steel Magnolia, Jimmy Wayne, Crystal Bowersox, Carter’s Chord, Margaret Durante and Coldwater Jane. Along with reps from both LHJ and CMT, these artists donated some of the very little free time they had during their frenetic week to sweat alongside us prepping supplies for Feeding America‘s BackPack program, which was designed to meet the needs of hungry kids at times when other resources aren’t available (such as weekends and school vacations). By the afternoon’s end, our volunteers had prepped 2,107 bags of food for the program! At the CMT Awards the next night, other musical acts signed some symbolic bags to be auctioned off to raise more funds for the program, to which CMT makes a generous donation in lieu of those pricey artist gift bags other awards shows usually give out.

To keep the spirit of our volunteer afternoon alive, LHJ and CMT are now partnering up for a Do Good Summer Virtual Food Drive. If you’re able, we’d love it if you could contribute to it, which will then in turn provide much needed food to programs such as the BackPack effort. Any amount is greatly appreciated. Of course, if you’d like to volunteer at a Feeding America food bank, that’s another great way to do good and make a difference. As you can see from the slideshow below (with Carter’s Chord’s “Love a Little Bigger” as a musical background), our volunteer afternoon was a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun. Click here to find the nearest food bank in your area. Be sure to let us know how it goes!

For more pictures from our volunteer event, additional info on the BackPack program and stats from Second Harvest, read on after the jump.

All photos by John Russell.

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Do Good: Helping Middle Tennessee

May 5, 2010 at 11:56 pm , by

OpryStageDoor_fullsizeOur thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Nashville and middle Tennessee, who are still living in some pretty dicey conditions following this past weekend’s horrific flooding and tornadoes.

Due to damaged water plants, residents today were still being advised to use water for drinking, food prep and hand washing only. Amidst rumors that water will be cut off (it won’t be), there’s fear that people will start filling their tubs with water, only making the situation worse. In Davidson county, 450 roads have been damaged. About 8,000 bridges need to be inspected to be sure they’re safe to drive on. Tennessee’s governor has declared 52 counties disaster areas. People in Hickman County had no electricity, phone, cell or internet service) for four days, so they didn’t get warnings about needing to boil their water. Officials are now hoping there’s not a mass outbreak of illness there due to contaminated water consumption. In the end, it’s possible the cost of damage from the flooding could top $1 billion.

Even famed tourist locations like the Grand Ole Opry have been affected, and the sight of its famed stage door half covered by flooding (taken by Opry photographer Chris Hollo) has served as an iconic image of the disaster. But it’s more than the high-profile locations that need help. I checked back in with singer Jimmy Wayne, who was just outside Fort Sumner, Arizona, on his Meet Me Halfway walk, about the odds stacked against those already suffering before the storms. “What happened to Nashville and the surrounding communities this past weekend is tragic,” he says. “The city has been devastated. Some of those hardest hit are the homeless, many of whom lived by the river. They had nothing to begin with, and now even the soup kitchens that feed them are running low on food. So many communities are still under water and the people are suffering. Please do what you can to help those affected by the flood.”

Luckily, there’s been a lot of reports about the Nashville community and those around it rallying in very grassroots ways. A colleague of mine from the area tells me her neighborhood receives multiple alerts a day telling them where to go to help and what supplies to bring. I’ve been on email chains of friends down there who are rounding up others to come help them help their neighbors rip out damaged carpets and drywall. It’s all very inspiring, but middle Tennessee shouldn’t have to go it alone.

It would be great to get some more widespread help for the area. Read on after the jump to find out how you can donate your money, time or materials to help middle Tennessee on its long road to recovery.

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Do Good Country Spotlight: Jimmy Wayne

April 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm , by

J Wayne cover imageRiding high on the success of his first number-one song, 2008’s “Do You Believe Me Now?”, Jimmy Wayne was having a great 2009. He had a new CD, Sara Smile, about to drop in November, and he was touring as the opening act on the Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley tour. He even got to play Madison Square Garden the week of his birthday. I had the good fortune of being there when he was surprised backstage with a birthday cake commissioned by some top-tier fans and baked by TLC’s the Cake Boss. (Yes, I had a slice. It was an offer—and a cake—I couldn’t refuse.)

Come Christmastime, though, the singer was feeling the weight of his good fortune. “I started to think about where I’d come from, remembering all the times I’d lived outside in the cold and slept on the ground,” says Wayne, who had an abusive childhood and spent years as a homeless teen, shuffling in and out of foster homes. “I had a little bit of guilt. When you come from that background, you never want to walk away from it. You always want to do as much as possible to give back. And I started thinking that I really hadn’t done anything significant in 2009 that really helped to give back.”

Cut to January 1, 2010. Wayne laced up and launched his Project Meet Me Halfway walk, an effort to call attention to the plight of kids in the foster care system—especially those who “age out,” meaning they’re cut off J Wayne at Texas - New Mexico borderfrom foster care funding and health insurance. In some states, that’s at the age of 18 and, all too often, these kids end up homeless. Choosing two foster care organizations he’s done a lot of work with through the years as starting and end points, Wayne departed from the parking lot of Nashville’s Monroe Harding on his way to Phoenix’s HomeBase Youth Services, and is still en route. Yes, that’s a planned 1,700-mile walk, started in the dead of winter. Yes, he knows it’s kinda crazy and, yes, he’s had doubts along the way. But, at posting time, he’s logged more than 1,000 miles and even survived his first rattlesnake encounter near the Texas-New Mexico border (pictured).

You can keep track on exactly where Wayne is on his Meet Me Halfway website (in case you want to head out to meet him and offer some support), as well as find links to donate to both Monroe Harding and HomeBase Youth Services. You can even check out some live webcasts that Jimmy does from the road on the site too.

I chatted with Wayne right around his arrival in Amarillo, Texas—roughly the midpoint of his journey. He brought me up to speed on the inspiration for the walk, his personal history with foster care, and how you can help spread the word and help the cause. All that, after the jump.

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