Kelvin Sampson

Kelvin Sampson’s normal day job is being the University of Houston’s men’s basketball coach. Luckily for Sampson, the season is still a couple months away, so he has the ability to devote more time to putting together a massive fundraising effort for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

The thing is, according to The Robesonian (a local newspaper in Lumberton, NC; Sampson was born in that county and graduated from local university UNC-Pembroke), Sampson hasn’t been able to leave his house in nearly a week. But that isn’t stopping the 61-year-old from doing whatever he can to help others.

“There’s gotta be something we can do,” Sampson told his son.

Sampson’s son Kellen is an assistant on Sampson’s staff at the University of Houston, while his daughter Lauren is the program’s director of external operations. Right now they have a lot of time on their hands and they are using it to help others.

On Monday, Sampson took to Twitter to start working towards his goal of helping whoever needs help in the Houston area.

“It’s been a tough time. Words can’t describe the devastation and carnage. Entire families are leaving (their homes) with just the clothes on their backs,” Sampson said. “Coaches who have basketball camps always have spare shirts or gear. … especially with new gear coming in for the season. Coaches want to help and you see those visuals on TV and how bad it is and your heart goes out to those people.”

We may never know how many people Sampson expected to respond, but the Head Coach admits the response has been “overwhelming” as schools from all over the country, nearly 900 as of 11:30 PM EST on Wednesday, to be exact, have pitched in.

“Reading through texts, the state of North Carolina is heavily represented,” Sampson said.

But let’s not forget there are other states with big basketball programs like Kentucky, where coach John Calipari called Sampson to say he wasn’t just sending gear, but also a $150,000 check.

“Because of the images, being here in the middle of everything, you get emotional because you know you’re doing a good thing,” Sampson said. “Every coach would be doing the same thing if they were in this situation. We’re all a member of our community. We should take care of each other.”

Joseph Duarte is the team beat writer for the Houston Chronicle and has been documenting the rise in donations on his Twitter feed. And Duarte isn’t just tracking donations to the basketball team’s fundraising efforts, but the football, baseball, softball, and women’s lacrosse teams’ efforts as well. The results? They’re very impressive:

The nearly 900 commitments isn’t just from colleges either, but everything from elementary schools to high schools as well.

“I had a company contact me this morning saying, ‘We’re not a sports team but we have portable phone chargers,’” Sampson said. “It’s gone global. The more gear, the more items we can get distributed, the more people we can help. … that’s what it’s all about. Nothing else.”

It’s pretty amazing that a simple tweet from the University of Houston men’s basketball coach has gone so viral that what was first a sports equipment and clothing drive has now turned into a massive donation drive. It goes to show how powerful and great humans can be when working together.

“We have to get U-Haul trucks to help the mail service with all of this and we’ll ask volunteers in the Houston area to help sort the clothing sizes,” Sampson said.

20 t-shirts and 10 shoes has now evolved into so much more. Sampson isn’t stopping at shoes and shirts and is moving on to anything else people may need.

“Prepaid phone cards for communicating, toiletries. … everything you send can help,” Sampson said. “(Houston Mayor) Sylvester Turner, a Houston grad, does a great job with his leadership. Anything you can send will be used. Send $10 or $20 — these people need money, too. The stuff we’re doing will make a difference, but these people have lost everything.”

Bravo, Coach Sampson.

[The Robesonian; photo via]

About David Lauterbach

David is a writer for The Comeback. He enjoyed two Men's Basketball Final Four trips for Syracuse before graduating in 2016. If The Office or Game of Thrones is on TV, David will be watching.