KILLEEN, TX — To help struggling Texans, a 14-hour drive from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Killeen, Texas, seemed like nothing to Chris Wieland, a TikToker.
”I started seeing a lot of the people down here in the Killeen area that were going without and what they were going through,” he said. “So I reached out to my followers on TikTok.”
All 98,000 of them.
His following stretches across the nation, with a few folks at home. Collectively, his audience raised over $7,000 in just two days.
At first, Wieland said, he was expecting a few hundred dollars, which he would match. The Tennessee man raised over $4,000 in the first six hours.
“All I did was drive this stuff,” he explained. “It's all the people on TikTok that made all this happen.”
In fact, when Sherree Schilling saw he was in town, she got on her Harley Davidson motorcycle and drove to the Killeen Special Events Center where Wieland was, just to say hello and to give him a hug.
“Chris is definitely a blessing to people here that's getting the help that he's providing,” Schilling said. “That's just really awesome, to collect money from his following using that TikTok ... to receive donations to help a community in need.”
The money Wieland and his platform raised bought itens like PVC pipes, milk, eggs, bread, and water. A whole lot of water. When he released on TikTok the address where he was donating the supplies, hundreds of Central Texans showed up. Many who don't use TikTok stopped to see what was going on when they saw a line of cars waiting in the parking lot.
The best part? Everything was free.
“I'd never really loved a bottle of water until about two weeks ago,” said Sylvester Holland, a man whose Killeen home still has no water due to the Arctic blast this past week.
The storm that left millions across the Lone Star State without power and electricity.
While many are still struggling, Wieland said, he chose the city of Killeen to donate to because of an old friend. ”He served in the military out here, and he took his life a few years ago,” he explained. “I've never been able to give him anything back or his community or his family. ”
It’s safe to say that while Wieland is helping the community, the community is helping him.
”It does make me feel good,” he said as his eyes teared up. “But at the same time, it's finally giving me a little bit of closure.”