BILLINGS – The man who started his head coaching career at Montana Tech more than 30 years ago is now caught in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Kelvin Sampson – after tenures at Oklahoma, Indiana and the NBA – is now head coach at the University of Houston, and he’s making an actual difference in the relief effort.

Sampson published a post on Twitter Wednesday that went viral, requesting teams’ shirts and shoes to help relief efforts. A barrage of Montana schools, including Rocky Mountain College, have joined the nation in what’s been an overwhelming response.

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Sampson returned a phone call to MTN Sports Thursday afternoon with an update.

“We had 49 of the 50 states respond to us,” said Sampson. “We had over 1,100 schools. Now when I say a school, I mean a college, a high school, a middle school, and elementary schools of men’s and women’s. We had AAU programs. We had businesses.”

As for Sampson and his family, trips to the grocery store or gas station weren’t even options.

“They weren’t open,” he said. “Let me put this in perspective. I didn’t drive my car for five days, because I couldn‘t get to the street because the street was flooded. So going to a grocery story or gas station was irrelevant.” 

Sampson estimates they’ll receive around 25,000 T-shirts and up to 35,000 pairs of shoes, plus other supplies once mail starts arriving. But that won’t be for nearly a week.

“No, there’s an embargo on the city of Houston. We won’t get any mail until next Tuesday,” Sampson said. “But when it comes (to the name and address): Kelvin Sampson, Guy V Lewis Center, Cullen Boulevard, Houston, Texas. … There’s probably going to be more pieces of mail under that name than they’ve ever had under anybody’s name at one time in the history of that mail center.”