Indie band, bus does good for Texas firefighters

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Lead singer of Foster the People Mark Foster signs a CD for a fan in front of the Austin City Limits entrance on Friday afternoon. The band helped raise about $26,000 for American Red Cross of Central Texas and the Texas Wildfire Relief Fund.

Photo Credit: Julia Bunch | Daily Texan Staff

Indie-pop group Foster the People helped raise almost $26,000 for wildfire relief during Austin City Limits on Friday as part of the group’s ongoing effort to promote community service during their current tour.

Foster the People partnered with the Do Good Bus, a Los Angeles-based non-profit, to raise funds for organizations at each city in the band’s current tour. The Do Good Bus collected nearly $13,000. C3 Presents, the company producing ACL, matched funds collected by the volunteers, said bus co-founder Stephen Snedden.

The tour, which covers 24 U.S. cities, is the first cross-country tour the Do Good Bus has undertaken, Snedden said. He added the group was already familiar with the band through its other co-founder Rebecca Pontius, sister of Foster the People drummer Mark Pontius.

“We just got to talking and they wanted to do something good for the cities they go to,” Snedden said. “We pitched the idea to them of, ‘We’ve got a bus, we’re mobile and so we would go with them to good causes,’ and they loved it.”

At the festival, 16 volunteers collected donations for the American Red Cross of Central Texas and the Texas Wildfire Relief Fund, which helps equip volunteer firefighters, Snedden said.

He said the Do Good Bus organization wanted to assist local areas experiencing disasters, and the wildfires in Central Texas provided an opportunity for them to be of assistance.
“It’s just one more way we can help out, having mobile transportation with volunteers,” Snedden said.

He said the Do Good Bus provides a gateway towards community involvement for many people who would otherwise have not volunteered.

“Some people don’t know who to contact or where to go, and this way it’s a total surprise,” he said. “A lot of people end up giving long-term support to organizations they may not have ever gotten involved in or had an interest in.”

Seventy-seven percent of the state’s firefighting force is made up of volunteers, and 86 percent of volunteer firefighters use personal funds to supply equipment and protective gear, said Kelsey Coleman, development director of the Texas Wildfire Relief Fund. Coleman said volunteer fire departments need lighter gear to fight wildfires.

“They’re fighting in street clothes, unprotected,” Coleman said. “If we get these volunteer firefighters into the right gear, they can serve us better and protect homes and lives.”

Coleman said the fundraising efforts of the Do Good Bus and Foster the People helped keep the momentum to support Bastrop.

“They’ve done a great job to raise awareness, which is going to bring in more money and more volunteers,” she said.
Austin personal trainer Kari Putnam said she recently decided to volunteer more and signed up to work with the Do Good Bus when it came to Austin because Snedden was a friend from college.

“Sometimes it takes a reason or a cause or a friend to help someone take that first step,” Putnam said. “I’m not the kind of person that would typically stand in the midst of a group of people asking for cash.”

Radio-television-film junior Isabella Cook was one of 100 people that came to see Foster the People when they stopped with the Do Good Bus.

“That’s great that they can find time between touring and also use their fame to promote other good causes,” Cook said. “It’s an effective way to get people involved.”