IOWA DERECHO 2020

Carson King redirects fundraising prowess on derecho victims

'It's just needed'

#x201c;Iowa Love#x201d; t-shirt being sold to raise funds to help derecho recovery (Carson King Foundation)
“Iowa Love” t-shirt being sold to raise funds to help derecho recovery (Carson King Foundation)

IOWA CITY — When Carson King nearly a year ago hoisted a sign asking for beer money that he promptly redirected to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital — raising an eventual $3-plus million — he laid bare the generosity woven through the fabric of Iowa culture.

Now with tens of thousands of Iowans in need — even as they roll up their sleeves to help themselves and their neighbors — King, 25, again is tapping and coalescing the state’s ingrained benevolence with another organized fundraiser focused squarely on derecho recovery.

“It affected a lot of people,” King told The Gazette on Tuesday of the hurricane-strength storm that blasted Iowa last week, leveling homes, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands, and leaving just as many without access to food, water, internet, and cellular service — not to mention devastating property damage to clean up.

“It was so unexpected, no one had time to plan. There are still people without power. There are people, they’re going to be losing their homes,” he said. “It affects our community. And especially with the pandemic and people losing their jobs and then this comes through. It’s just needed.”

King — though his relatively recently-created Carson King Foundation and in collaboration with Iowa Love, which calls itself a mission-driven clothing and brands business supporting Iowans and nonprofits — on Sunday unveiled a derecho relief and aid fundraiser.

The benefit combines straight donations to the King foundation and proceeds from sales of an Iowa Love T-shirt — 100 percent of which will go toward those affected by last week’s derecho. The $22.95 Iowa Love derecho-specific shirt boasts an “Iowa Strong” hashtag and the line, “In Iowa there is love. In love there is strength.”

In the first 24-hours after its launch, the fundraiser generated more than $20,000, King said. By 48 hours the total had swelled to $35,000, including more than 1,500 T-shirts sold.

To date, the campaign has amassed more than $37,000 — with the goal of raising “as much as possible until the job’s done.”

King said the plan is to funnel all proceeds through the state’s United Way branches — with most going to the eastern portion of the state and some to central Iowa. The first money transfer is planned for Wednesday, according to King.

“We’re trying to get everything in and out to make sure everyone’s covered as quickly as possible,” he said.

A growing list of area nonprofits and service agencies also are raising money and coordinating aid and support for the hundreds of thousands affected — including local food pantries, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army of the Heartland, the Hawkeye Area Community Action Plan, and faith-based organizations.

Once King makes his first gift to United Way, he said the foundation will assess expanding aid efforts to potential food, clothing, or diaper drives.

“But for right now we’re focused on the United Ways, as they’re already very experienced in helping that kind of area,” he said.

King launched his own foundation earlier this year after an impromptu Children’s Hospital fundraiser — started after he raised a sign requesting beer money during ESPN’s visit to Ames for the Cy-Hawk series — generated more than $3 million.

Since that time, his foundation — partnering with Iowa Love — helped raise more than $40,000 for organizations serving people with mental illness. He’s also been working construction with his brother’s company — Iowa Legends Roofing and Remodeling — and they’re headed to Cedar Rapids this week to help physically with disaster relief.

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“We’re booked for two straight days for damage inspections and working with insurance adjusters on getting people’s roofs covered,” he said.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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