A new “partners in preparedness” project between Olinde’s Furniture and the American Red Cross in south Louisiana has raised $14,000 for local disaster relief efforts – in just one portion of the project.
Tom Olinde, president of Olinde’s Furniture, which also has the Ashley Furniture franchise for south Louisiana, presented the check last week before the boards of directors for the South Louisiana Region of the Red Cross, including the Southwest Louisiana Chapter. But Kristin Whitty, the Louisiana Capital Area Chapter board member who helped facilitate the agreement, had a surprise for Olinde even as she waited to hear the final tally from the customer donation program.
“What Tom doesn’t know is that the Wilson Foundation, which just gave us $25,000 to support daily fire response, has agreed to match his gift up to an additional $12,500,” Whitty said before her board colleagues who were meeting in Baton Rouge. “So his gift of $14,000 is really yielding $26,500 to support disaster relief in south Louisiana.”
Olinde signed an agreement in late May to engage in a “partners in preparedness” project. At its center was this customer donation program, but extensive messaging also focused on hurricane preparedness.
“We are delighted to partner with Red Cross, particularly during hurricane season, as they are the ‘go to’ agency for disaster relief,” Olinde said.
In addition, the staff in all eight south Louisiana Ashley Furniture stores – from Lake Charles to Ponchatoula and Houma – wore a Red Cross button pin, to help draw attention to the offer.
“Tom’s family is well-known in the community for its civic-minded approach to business, and what a great example of service,” Whitty said. “Thank you Tom, for this effort, which not only helps local people recover from disaster – it reminded others to prepare and perhaps mitigate the impact of disasters to come.”
More than 5,500 people have been assisted so far this year through gifts to the American Red Cross in south Louisiana.
“This gift has already been working hard,” said Bobbi Zaunbrecher, executive director. “The Red Cross fiscal year ends in just a few days, and we will have invested nearly $1 million in direct assistance to help our fire clients recover.”