OFFSTAGE: Rascal Flatts: On a Cheerios Mission to Fight Hunger

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Friday night (March 30), I got the warmest welcome to Las Vegas from Rascal Flatts. And Martina McBride. And The Band Perry. And the Eli Young Band. And Justin Moore. And more. They were all at an event to announce their partnership with General Mills to Outnumber Hunger. The way they all explained it, it’s so easy: You buy Cheerios (or other General Mills products), then enter the code from the box on outnumberhunger.com . Seriously, it’s a no brainer. But I wondered if any of these celebs helped do good works even before they were celebs. And here’s what they told me:

Jay DeMarcus: “Our local church used to have food drives when you’d bring in canned goods around the holidays, so we definitely did that. We went out and collected a whole bunch of food for the needy. And then a good friend had his whole family run a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving every year. He always shared with me how special it was.”

Gary LeVox: “Just recently, I saw a family — mom, dad, a boy and a girl — working at a soup kitchen in New Jersey. They volunteer there every week. That really made an impact on me and made me think that I want to do that. I want to take my girls to do it.”

Joe Don Rooney: “A lot of people out there have it in their hearts to do these things but just can’t find the time to do it. But this program makes it so easy to help.”

Kimberly Perry: “The most life-changing event for me was when I was in the ninth grade. Me and my brothers (Neil and Reid Perry of The Band Perry) had the opportunity to travel down to Tchula, Miss., which is one of the poorest counties in the country. We got to feed everyone, take care of the kids — because my father’s a pediatrician — and just tried to give back to that community.”

Martina McBride: “Where I grew up, in a small community of about 200 people, we didn’t have that organized kind of food bank. We just all helped each other out. But [daughter] Delaney just visited the food bank with me in Nashville, and we made a donation and then loaded boxes.”

Later Friday night, McBride talked about how much she cherishes having dinner with her husband and three daughters.

“It’s so important,” she said. “We eat, we talk about our day. And it occurred to me the other day that not everybody has that opportunity. There are so many families out there struggling with hunger and don’t have the food to put on the table, so they don’t get to have that experience. And that’s heartbreaking to me.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.