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When disasters strike, Melaleuca delivers supplies, hope

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A longtime supporter of the American Red Cross, Melaleuca: The Wellness Company answers the call in times of crisis. Melaleuca’s donations and “run-to-the-rescue” philosophy over the years have been critical to numerous relief efforts, programs and services overseen by the American Red Cross.

Melaleuca quickly mobilizes when major disasters strike, donating and delivering truckloads of health and wellness products to those in need. They also have spearheaded multiple community-wide humanitarian efforts to help families affected by tragedy. 

“Melaleuca is a wonderful example of a company that cares about humanity and helping those in need,” said Nicole Sirak Irwin, regional CEO of the Red Cross of Greater Idaho and Montana. “They have repeatedly come to the rescue during times of disaster and have made a difference in countless lives. We’re grateful for Melaleuca’s support in helping the American Red Cross accomplish our mission of preventing human suffering in the face of disaster.”

During summer 2017, a season of unprecedented catastrophe, the Idaho company responded to three devastating hurricanes and two major earthquakes.

Hurricane Harvey: Melaleuca sent truckloads of supplies to Hurricane Harvey evacuees in Houston. Melaleuca was one of the first companies to arrive with products at the Houston Convention Center, where the American Red Cross sheltered 9,000 people in the days following the storm. They also sent two 53-foot trailers to a distribution center that restocked 25 other shelters throughout the region. 

During the unloading process in Houston, a pair of U.S. Army soldiers approached Melaleuca’s truck drivers with a dire problem: They needed to deliver 40 pallets of bottled water to victims without clean water in Beaumont, Texas, but had no way of doing so. 

Honored to help the military, Melaleuca loaded up the pallets and delivered them to an airfield. From there, three Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and two Blackhawks flew the bottled water into flooded Beaumont. Melaleuca’s willingness to cooperate saved lives, according to one soldier.

Hurricane Irma: After this Category 5 hurricane left cities underwater, Melaleuca donated thousands of its wellness and hygiene products to a major American Red Cross shelter in Orlando, Fla., and helped an affiliate shelter, Second Harvest Food Bank, ease the suffering of Hurricane Irma victims in Florida.  

Hurricane Maria: Because Puerto Rico would not have electricity for months following this hurricane’s destruction, Melaleuca flew the company’s executive jet stocked with 18 generators and 2,000 pounds of beef jerky to the island. Although the San Juan Airport’s radar instruments were inoperable and commercial flights were grounded, Melaleuca pilots skillfully managed to get in and out.

The generators were offered to the American Red Cross shelters on the island.  Ultimately, they went to power respirators, oxygen machines and other equipment in hospitals and nursing homes. Some eventually went to elementary schools so children could continue their schooling. 

Rather than have the jet return home empty, Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot posted the following message on Twitter: “Commercial planes have not been able to get in and out of Puerto Rico. We have a plane there now. Free passage for folks who need to leave … 10 free seats available to Fort Lauderdale. Plane leaves in two hours.”

Sitting among the devastation in Puerto Rico, Blanca Figueroa got a text message from her son, who saw the tweet and wanted his mother safe with him in Utah. With only an hour to pack and obstacle-ridden roads to overcome, Blanca Figueroa made it onto the Melaleuca plane just in time for an unexpected ride off the island. 

“I can do more for my island from here than there,” Figueroa said upon reaching the mainland. “We can do nothing there. I feel highly blessed. I really believe in miracles and I know that the Lord answered the prayers of my son.”

Mexico earthquakes: Melaleuca assisted the Mexican Red Cross by delivering hygiene products and healthy snacks to families displaced by Mexico’s two massive earthquakes.

Other contributions: When not responding to natural disasters, Melaleuca assists the American Red Cross in other ways. The company has hosted blood drives and donated hygiene kits that the Red Cross relies on in times of need.   

In March, Melaleuca sponsored the Real Heroes Awards ceremony in Idaho Falls and will sponsor the Hometown Heroes event in Boise on May 24. At these events, individuals who performed incredible acts of heroism are honored and presented with their own Red Cross trophy paid for by Melaleuca.