Thomas Rhett and wife Lauren Akins’ path to adopting a child spanned thousands of miles. But like so many of Rhett’s country songs and characters, the road left them changed — even more inspired to love, help children, and fight hunger.
The couple adopted their oldest daughter, Willa, from Uganda. While finalizing her adoption in 2016, they were surprised to learn Akins was pregnant with their daughter, Ada. Both girls officially joined the family in 2017, and the couple is now expecting their third daughter in 2020.
“I look at my kids, and I can’t imagine my kids going hungry. When you start to view other kids as your kids, it touches your heart in a different way.”
— Thomas Rhett
“One in seven kids are hungry in this country, which is an insane stat that exists in 2019, but it’s a fact,” Rhett said. “I look at my kids, and I can’t imagine my kids going hungry. When you start to view other kids as your kids, it touches your heart in a different way.”
Rhett will lend his star power to help Wells Fargo and Feeding America®spotlight the issue of hunger through a special performance during the 2019 American Music Awards broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 24, on ABC.
Rhett is among the AMAs nominees for favorite male artist in the country music category. He’s helping Wells Fargo and Feeding America collect nonperishable food through Dec. 31 as the company’s 5,300 bank branches become food banks for the holidays.
People can participate by donating online to Feeding America, contributing at Wells Fargo ATMs, texting MEALS to 91990, or volunteering at local food banks. Wells Fargo also is donating up to $5 million to Feeding America in direct donations and matching funds.
“I would encourage my fans to just get involved,” Rhett said. “Doing small things can make a huge impact. If you start in your own town, a lot of little things can add up to something big.”
Along with Rhett’s performance, abstract artist Hueman will create a custom mural live on the AMAs red carpet based on the theme, “Lending a Helping Hand.” AMAs attendees, including musicians and celebrities, will be encouraged to autograph the custom artwork that will be sold in a future auction to benefit Feeding America.
Packing BackPacks to fight hunger
AMAs viewers will see video highlights of Rhett volunteering with Wells Fargo team members at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee — a member of the Feeding America network.
Rhett and more than a dozen Wells Fargo team members packed 1,980 backpacks with food as part of the BackPack Program, which helps feed 6,000 children each week at 68 programs throughout Middle Tennessee.
“My son’s elementary school uses the BackPack program, so knowing people in my community, perhaps sitting right next to my son, need this food to avoid going hungry over the weekend and on school breaks really brings home the need to me personally,” said Sammie Griffin, a Wells Fargo treasury management sales analyst and president of the Nashville chapter of Wells Fargo Volunteers. “Hunger is a big issue and having the voice of someone like Thomas raising awareness about it is a big boost.”
“Wells Fargo has a rich history of supporting local communities through corporate philanthropy and team member volunteerism, and working with the American Music Awards spotlights the need to support hunger-related causes with the show’s millions of viewers."
— Jamie Moldafsky
A typical backpack includes two cereals, two entrees, a snack, fruit juice, and shelf-stable milk. Griffin organizes about three volunteer stints per year at the food bank.
Wells Fargo Chief Marketing Officer Jamie Moldafsky said the company decided to work with Rhett as part of its first sponsorship of the American Music Awards because of his passion for fighting hunger and heart for helping others.
“Wells Fargo has a rich history of supporting local communities through corporate philanthropy and team member volunteerism, and working with the American Music Awards spotlights the need to support hunger-related causes with the show’s millions of viewers,” Moldafsky said.
“In sponsoring the AMAs, we wanted to work with talent who was also concerned about addressing food insecurity, and Thomas and Ashley have made educating people about the issue of hunger their platform,” she said. “Just as support for our communities is a part of what we value as a company and what our own team members live out every day, it’s clear the Rhetts and their fans are committed to giving back, too.”