business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe
It has been nothing short of remarkable to see the level of compassion exemplified by so many businesses and citizens in the days that have followed the devastating tsunami that wreaked so much destruction and loss of human life in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia. And perhaps the most remarkable thing about this generosity is that it has not been a surprise – people have responded with the same alacrity that so many people and nations showed after the terrorist attacks here on September 11, 2001.

It is difficult to go to any sort of major website without finding links that allow you to donate money to the relief effort. At Amazon.com, for example, more than 175,000 people have contributed a total of more than $14 million to the American Red Cross Tsunami Disaster Relief fund…and that is just one illustration.

Manufacturing companies that have included Heinz, Del Monte, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo have been donating products and money.

Wal-Mart announced that it will donate $2 million to the Red Cross in support of the Tsunami relief efforts, while also establishing collection points in all of its Wal-Mart stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, SAM'S CLUB and distribution locations in the U.S. as well as online at walmart.com and samsclub.com.

Other retailers - including Kroger, Safeway, Delhaize, Whole Foods, Ahold, Ukrops and Bashas - also are doing things like providing collection points for customer donations and pledging matching money.

And it’s not just the big companies that are doing something. In our own backyard., Stew Leonard’s is holding a month-long fundraising effort in partnership with AmeriCares, with all the money tossed into the Wishing Wells at the front of each of the company’s three stores donated to the relief effort. In just the first three days of the program, more than $5,000 was raised – and the company has pledged to match dollar for dollar all employee and customer donations.

It’s just one example. There are countless others, too many to list.

But it occurs to us that it was just a few days ago that we were all debating the meaning of Christmas and how retailers should deal with a diversifying culture. There’s nothing like a natural disaster and the simple yet compelling cry of people in need – no matter who they are, where they are from or what deity they may worship - to illustrate that even in diversity, people in this nation and around the world remain steadfastly and compassionately human…in the very best sense of that word.
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