When Miranda Lambert asks, fans deliver

Author: Kendra Meinert
Source: USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Mar. 9, 2017

“Amanda, Miranda.” “Miranda, Amanda.”

Introductions might have sounded a little like that when Amanda Reitz met Miranda Lambert at the Resch Center last week.

Reitz, the founder of Happily Ever After Animal Sanctuary in Marion and Ashwaubenon, was invited backstage to meet the country singer before her sold-out concert on March 2. But it wasn’t just a celebrity photo op. It was a chance to say thank you.

Lambert had asked fans coming to her show to pitch in and fill the little red wagon parked in the Resch lobby with cat and dog food, gift cards, toys and other supplies needed at the shelter. It’s something Lambert, a noted animal lover and founder of her own animal nonprofit Mutt Nation, has been doing on each stop of her Highway Vagabond Tour to help local animal rescue groups.

When Lambert asks, fans listen. That Radio Flyer red wagon was buried beneath a mountain of donations before the lights ever went down in the arena.

Marcus Reitz, who handles branding and development for HEA, accompanied his sister backstage for the brief meeting with Lambert.

“(Miranda) was very appreciative of the work we do, and it was kind of interesting watching Amanda, because she thanked Miranda obviously,” Marcus Reitz said. “It’s a big thing for her to tie her name to an event like that, because it produces the outcome that it did. The emotional impact that left on Amanda … She just kind of broke down standing there.”

The drive netted more than $900 in cash and gift cards for HEA, along with 1,200-plus pounds of dog and cat chow as well as canned cat food, toys (even a couple of cowboy boot squeakies) and cleaning supplies.

A crew of five from HEA spent the time it took Aubrie Sellers and Old Dominion to play their opening sets packing it all up.

“We literally filled to the gills the Suburban that we had along and then a Honda Pilot was also nearly full,” Reitz said. “It was a pretty cool thing.”

Lambert, who has seven rescue dogs and 22 animals total, had specifically requested a no-kill shelter to partner with, Reitz said. Even Lambert’s camp seemed impressed by the showing from northeastern Wisconsin. On her Facebook page earlier this week, they posted a photo of the Resch pile and wrote:

“Look at all the great pet supplies that were donated in Green Bay! Y’all are making a big difference for your local shelters!”

“For Green Bay to get a shout-out like that is really cool. Ultimately, I think that speaks to what our community does each and every day,” Reitz said. “We’re so fortunate that the community gives the way that they do. It’s very rare that we have to purchase food. It’s primarily special dietary things and that when we do, so this really just continues to keep those bowls full every day and the bellies full. It’s certainly going to be felt within the care that we’re able to provide everybody on a daily basis.”

Everybody who brought a donation to the concert was entered in a drawing to win two upgraded seats and a chance to meet Lambert. The donation drive originally started out with 500 entry forms but HEA requested a second supply of 1,000 more and put a pretty good dent in those, Reitz said. The winners were a grandmother and her granddaughter.

To thank Lambert, HEA presented her with their version of a little red wagon signed by about 50 of the shelter’s volunteers. It was stuffed with personalized treats for her dogs, cat treats, an HEA hat and T-shirt and a letter of thanks written by one of the volunteers on behalf of the animals at the shelter.

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