The American Red Cross is fortunate to work with a variety of generous corporate supporters every day. After the devastating floods caused historic damage and destruction throughout the Houston metropolitan area in April 2016, many of these benevolent-minded businesses stepped in to support Red Cross relief and recovery efforts.
On Friday, April 29, 2016, corporate members of the Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and Disaster Responder Program - CarMax, FedEx, Lowe’s Companies, Inc., Mazda North American Operations, Target and Walmart - joined Red Cross employees and volunteers in Texas for a first-hand perspective of their donations in action. The Houston Astros organization also joined the observation visit of Red Cross relief operations.
ADGP and Disaster Responder members make an annual pre-investment to support Red Cross disaster relief efforts, allowing the Red Cross to pre-position emergency supplies, secure shelters, maintain emergency response vehicles and train volunteers - nationwide - before a disaster strikes. Many of the corporate donors shared experiences of friends, family and colleagues whose homes or offices were destroyed or damaged by the flooding.
The group spent the day learning about how the Red Cross executes a wide variety of logistical and operational details required during a large disaster response. Throughout the day, donors observed kitchen facility operations and the food distribution process through Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles, and helped load and distribute relief items individuals and families. They walked through a Red Cross warehouse to learn about what it takes to distribute bulk supplies to communities in need, and met with partner organizations on the ground, including the Fire Department of New York Disaster Assistance Response team. The group also visited a Red Cross service center where caseworkers were helping the people of Houston with recovery plans and providing them with additional resources. Lastly, attendees met with more than 100 Red Cross volunteers who were coordinating relief, response and recovery operations at the Red Cross Disaster Command Center.
The donor observation visit illustrated the extensive network of Red Cross volunteers and resources needed to run a disaster relief operation in the Houston area. To date, more than 2,300 Red Cross workers have helped serve more than 108,000 meals and snacks, distribute more than 234,000 relief items such as rakes, shovels, work gloves and comfort kits, and provided more than 1,600 overnight shelter stays.
“The trip put into perspective how massive the American Red Cross relief operation is, and I was impressed with how efficiently it runs,” said Julia Chicoskie, disaster relief advisor at FedEx. “Meeting Katie, as we distributed clean-up kits in her Houston neighborhood, was the most meaningful part of the trip for me. Even though most of her first floor was destroyed by the floodwaters, Katie was so upbeat, positive and appreciative of the support of the American Red Cross.”
The visit also highlighted the vast coordination that takes place with the entire response community – federal, state, county and local agencies, other nonprofit organizations, churches, and area businesses – to deliver relief and services quickly to people in need.
In addition to the recent flooding, Texas has experienced multiple devastating disasters this past year, and the Red Cross has been there every step of the way to help people through the recovery process. This dedication and service is possible because of committed and passionate companies and organizations that generously support our disaster relief efforts. The Red Cross is sincerely grateful for their commitment and generous support.