pitching in

Retailers, suppliers and distributors by the dozens stepped up to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina. Nearly 10 months later, many continue to help.

By Ross Markman, Retail Relations Editor

Hurricane Katrina may have struck New Orleans and the nearby Gulf Coast region, but there's no doubt that the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history rippled through the entire country (see "Shelter From the Storm," p. 24). To that effect, suppliers, retailers and distributors continue to pour thousands of dollars into aiding affected areas, which span parts of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

On the retailer side, chains such as Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc. raised money via customer and employee donations, funds that were matched by the company. In late October, two months after the Aug. 29, 2005, storm, Sheetz presented the American Red Cross with a relief check for $468,719.54, nearly $128,000 of which was donated by customers at more than 300 Sheetz locations. The company kicked in the remainder.

San Angelo, Texas-based Town & Country Food Stores, donated $50,000 to the relief effort, spreading the money among the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the United Way. And industry giant 7-Eleven launched several initiatives in October, aimed at raising money, including serving as official cash-donation sites for customers contributing. In addition, the company gave $150,000 to help the American Red Cross reach its goal of $2 billion in Katrina relief funds, and also joined with Verizon Communications Inc. to distribute $50,000 worth of $5 prepaid phone cards to evacuees.

Suppliers also played a significant role in the months following the storm. Anheuser-Busch, for example, offered its St. Louis, Mo., employees paid time off to assist victims of Katrina. Folks were authorized to take up to five days off if they volunteered at the Red Cross or Salvation Army. Another major beer manufacturer, Miller Brewing Co., sent 15 truckloads of 32-ounce bottles of water

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