"My community sees that side of me a lot," Keith, referring to his softer side, tells PEOPLE

By Eileen Finan
October 16, 2015 03:45 PM

Toby Keith is known as a guy ready to raise a (red Solo) cup – or a finger – so it’s fair to say that country’s Big Dog Daddy isn’t best known for his softer side.

But, the singer says, “my community sees that side of me a lot,” Keith tells PEOPLE. “I know I’ve been a political lightning rod before and you don’t always see that. You see the news pundits hammering me or supporting me or blowing something out of proportion.”

A new TV special, however, highlights Keith’s passion for lending a hand. Neighborhood Sessions Featuring Toby Keith, airing Friday on TBS (10 p.m. ET/PT), takes viewers to Keith’s hometown of Moore, Oklahoma, where the singer shows off his town, and gives a performance for the locals featuring his classic hits and songs from his new album, 35 MPH Town.

Keith says he had a good reason for letting the State Farm-sponsored special follow him home: putting a spotlight on the OK Kids Korral, a place where children with cancer and their families can stay while undergoing treatment. The singer’s Toby Keith Foundation opened the 16-room facility in Oklahoma City last year. “It’s kind of a Ritz Carlton meets Disney World,” Keith says. “It’s all free of charge. We have volunteers who cook for them and shuttle service and it’s right across from the children’s hospital.”

The show also focuses on the area’s devastating history with tornadoes. Two years ago when a twister ripped through Moore, killing 24, Keith organized a benefit concert that helped to raise $2 million for victims.

Keith knows his rabble-rousing reputation proceeds him, but, he says, “paint it however you want. At the end of the day I do what I do and I know it’s the right thing to do and I just go on down the road.”

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