Miranda Lambert tears up as Blake Shelton, of The Voice, hosts Healing in the Heartland

This image released by NBC Universal shows country singer Blake Shelton during the Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla. ((AP Photo/NBC, Trae Patton))
May 30, 2013 7:01:50 AM PDT
''Healing in the Heartland'' was the theme Wednesday night in tornado-ravaged Oklahoma.

PHOTOS: Healing in the Heartland Concert

Country superstar Blake Shelton organized an all-star concert lineup, and all the proceeds went toward the tornado relief effort.

Shelton also hosted "Healing in the Heartland," which benefit the United Way's tornado relief efforts. Shelton says he got together with some of his "closest friends from Oklahoma and beyond."

Oklahoma native Vince Gill dedicated his performance to the 24 people who didn't make it -- referring to those killed in the massive storm. Reba McEntire, who's an Oklahoman like Shelton and Gill, saluted the first responders who came to the rescue.

Other performers included Shelton's wife, Miranda Lambert, who burst into tears during her performance of "The House that Built Me," Yahoo reports. Rascal Flatts, Luke Bryant and Darius Rucker also performed. Shelton ended the "Healing in the Heartland" show with a duet with his partner from "The Voice," Usher.

Many organizations are expected to see an infusion of cash donations after "Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert" at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in downtown Oklahoma City. The money goes directly to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, which will distribute funding agencies helping in relief and recovery efforts for those affected by the May 20 tornado, said Karla Bradshaw, a spokeswoman for the United Way of Central Oklahoma.

"Those are the ones that are dealing right now with the immediate needs," Bradshaw said.

People who lined up outside the arena in heavy rain before the telethon said they were happy to have an opportunity to help their neighbors and enjoy a night of country music.

"I told my husband I wanted to help, and what better way than to do something fun too," said 29-year-old Kara McCarthy of Oklahoma City, who attended the concert with a friend.

Shelton, a native of Ada, kicked off the concert with a version of his song "God Gave Me You."

The televised event also included recorded video pleas from Oklahoma native Garth Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, Moore native Toby Keith, Ellen Degeneres and Jay Leno.

"It's going to be awesome. We're doing a TV show so we can raise as much money as humanly possible," Shelton told the sold-out crowd before the concert began.

Donations have poured in to Oklahoma since two major tornadoes ripped through the state last week, killing 26 people and affecting nearly 4,000 homes, businesses and other buildings in five counties. Twenty-four people, including 10 children, were killed in the May 20 tornado that hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.

In just the first three days after the tornado hit Moore, the Red Cross reported raising about $15 million in donations and pledges for its response to the Oklahoma tornados, including about $3.8 million in pledges from text donations.

The Salvation Army reported Tuesday afternoon it already has raised more than $5 million in monetary donations, as well as in-kind food donations from numerous corporations.

Before Wednesday night's concert, the United Way of Central Oklahoma reported raising $3 million for tornado relief, and the governor also asked the charity to administer an additional $2 million from a separate Oklahoma Strong disaster fund, said Debby Hampton, president and CEO of United Way of Central Oklahoma.

Dodd, with the Salvation Army, said many people are holding clothing drives to help benefit local residents, but that can pose problems for charities and other groups that might not have the room to store the items.

"Just the logistics of shipping a hundred pounds of clothing from across the country, it's terribly expensive and then you have to worry if you have space on the ground," Dodd said.

Ken Sterns, who spent years researching the best and most effective charities for his book, "With Charity for All," said donating to reputable, well-established charities also helps victims of the next disaster.

"I think most charity experts recommend giving cash donations, but I also tell people that in fact the most valuable contributions are not the contributions made after the fact, but contributions that allow charities, especially disaster relief organizations, to prepare for helping the victims of the next disaster," Sterns said. "We don't know who they are. We don't have a face on them. But we know they are coming."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Load Comments