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Before Hurricane Florence hit the North Carolina coast last week, N.C. State basketball coach Kevin Keatts had invited some of his friends from the Wilmington area to wait out the storm at his house in Raleigh.
That wasn’t enough. He figured he could do more. So Keatts has decided to partner with the United Way of North Carolina to help deliver clothes to those affected in the eastern part of the state by the flooding and damage of Florence.
“I just wanted to get involved and try to help,” Keatts said. “I think it’s important to help when you can because at some point, everybody is going to need help. If I can assist in a time of need, I want to be able to do that.”
Keatts, who is going into his second year with the Wolfpack, was UNC-Wilmington’s coach for three seasons from 2014 through 2017. He lived with his family in a neighborhood in Leland while he was the Seahawks’ coach.
“It’s tough,” Keatts said. “I have so many great relationships with friends in the Wilmington area. I could hear it in their voice, on the other end of the phone, how they sounded. They’ve lost power, they’ve had their houses torn up. It really touched me. I lived there and I realized that could be any of us.”
Following the lead of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, who helped lead a successful clothing drive after Hurricane Harvey damaged the Houston area, Keatts decided to ask his fellow college coaches for help. Sampson was able to get hundreds of colleges and organizations from across the country to donate thousands of items last year.
Keatts sent a text blast to all the coaches in his contact list. He posted the same message on his Twitter account on Wednesday. Keatts said the biggest items of need are socks, t-shirts and hats. The United Way will collect the items in Cary and distribute them.
“The more help we get, the sooner those people who were affected can get their lives back to normal,” Keatts said.
N.C. State’s football team will also be collecting items to help the relief effort before its next home game on Sept. 29.