App State alumnus provides RVs for MDs, gives a family comfort in South Carolina

Ansley Puckett, Reporter

MURRELLS INLET, S.C.- Parked in the driveway of a South Carolina home sits an off-white Zinger Camper. On the back, a black and gold App State “A” covers an extra tire. The man living inside of the camper doesn’t own it, and he didn’t graduate from App State.

The camper belongs to David Small, a 2003 App State graduate, and his wife Stacey, who lent the camper to Robert Craven, a hospitalist in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina who is working with potential COVID-19 patients. 

Courtesy of Abby Craven
Robert Craven and his two daughters stand outside the RV donated to their family from App State alumnus David Small and his wife, Stacey.

After the COVID-19 outbreak reached South Carolina, Robert Craven and his wife, Abby, decided that to keep their 4-and 5-year-old daughters safe, Robert Craven would limit contact with them and stay in a hotel.

“The week that he was at work, he was coming into contact with patients who may or may not have had (COVID-19), they were still waiting on the test results back, so we thought it would be best that he stay in a hotel,” Abby Craven said.

Following South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s “home or work” order, Abby Craven started to look for quarantine options for her husband. What she found was “RV’s for MD’s,” a Facebook page where RV and camper owners can offer their vehicles to health care workers who fear that staying in their own homes could put their families at risk. 

“What (RV’s for MD’s) do is, you fill out a form and you send it to them and tell them where you’re located, and what major cities you’re near and they try to match you,” Abby Craven said. 

After a few minutes searching the page, Abby Craven found Stacey Small’s post, which said she wanted to share her family’s camper with a health care worker.

“The RV’s for MD’s Facebook site is what really connected us together,” Abby Craven said. “I was just lucky enough that I reached out to her directly, but if I hadn’t found that page, I wouldn’t have known about it.”

For David Small and his wife Stacey, working with RV’s for MD’s just made sense.

“It was kind of a no-brainer for me, I mean our RV was just sitting there, so obviously, if anyone could use it, it would be a great thing,” Stacey Small said. “I just thought (RV’s for MD’s) was really great for so many people that needed it and needed to have this temporary housing so that they could keep their family safe.”

The couple is just one of many families donating their RVs to health care workers.

“There’s other people out there doing the same thing, it’s not like it was just us,” David Small said. “There’s so many other people helping and doing this, even potentially other App State folks.”

Following their connection, David and Stacey Small, drove down to set up the camper in the Cravens driveway. Accompanying them was App State alumnus, Clint Hughes, who wanted to help David and Stacey Small set up the vehicle for the Cravens.

Courtesy of Abby Craven
Abby Craven and her two daughters stand with David and Stacey Small, who donated their RV for her husband, a hospitalist, to stay in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“(Hughes) and I grew up together in Charlotte and have known each other since grade school, went to App State together and have continued to be friends,” David Small said. “When I said, ‘Hey man, we’re going to do this tomorrow,’” he said, “‘Oh, I’m coming to help’.”

Abby Craven said her daughters are much happier with their father closer to home.

“A week ago, every time Rob pulled away, they would cry for a good one or two hours and cry themselves to sleep at night,” Abby Craven said. “Now, you can tell there is new energy with them, and they’re just so much happier, and they think it is the coolest thing. They tell everyone when we go walking around the neighborhood, ‘My daddy lives in an RV,’ and we kind of have to explain why.”

Abby Craven said the Smalls’ generosity reminded her of people’s good nature.

“I know they don’t want a lot of recognition, but it’s just something to know that when people are hurting, and they’re suffering in the same situation, there are still good people out there,” Abby Craven said.

For the Smalls, the experience of giving was recognition enough.

“It’s a sense of we know we did something for someone, but we also got something from that experience,” David Small said. “As much as they feel blessed, we also feel blessed that we were able to do it.”

Stacey Small said she wants the experience to set an example for other people.

“The biggest thing is, I want other people to see this as ‘Hey, I can do something,’ no matter what it is, small, big, in any way shape or form, you can do something to help someone else,” Stacey Small said.

The Smalls’ generosity has touched Abby Craven and her family. 

“It’s a frustrating time, it’s a scary time, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or even next week or when this is going to go away but just to know that people drop their lives and time with their families to drive down and help strangers, it’s just, I have no words,” Abby Craven said. “There’s no way I could ever repay them for the kindness they’ve given to us.”