Businesses Step Up for SC Flood Response

From providing much-needed financial support to lending the volunteer manpower of their employees, businesses large and small have stepped up to help the American Red Cross respond to devastating flooding across South Carolina.
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Story and photo by Rick Harvey, American Red Cross

Cindy Pannell, Executive Vice-President of
Southeast Restaurant Corporation, looks
through a clean-up kit while touring
the warehouse at the Red Cross Emergency
Operations Center in Myrtle Beach, SC.
As flood waters rose across the state earlier this month, a South Carolina Pizza Hut franchisee quickly decided to give back to her community and support American Red Cross relief efforts.

Cindy Pannell, executive vice-president of Southeast Restaurant Corporation -- a franchisee of 49 Pizza Hut locations across the Palmetto State -- said her stores had just begun to take part in an international fundraising campaign when the flooding began.

Members of Pannell's team came to her asking if they could temporarily shift the fundraising focus in their stores in light of the devastation around them. Pannell agreed that immediate fundraising efforts should be transitioned to helping those affected by the flooding, in partnership with the Red Cross.

“It was the right thing to do,” Pannell said. Since October 9, cash donations for flood relief have been accepted at all 49 Pizza Hut locations.

This fundraising effort is one of many that Southeast Restaurant Corporation conducts for the Red Cross each year. “We love our partnership with the Red Cross,” Pannell said, explaining how her relationship with the organization started after she first witnessed Red Cross volunteers in action, responding to a fire next door to one of her Pizza Hut stores.

In addition to helping the Red Cross raise funds for its response to the South Carolina floods, Pannell has visited the organization's Emergency Operations Center in Myrtle Beach to learn the ins and outs of this multi-faceted relief operation.

“I’m just in awe of what the Red Cross does,” Pannell said.
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Red Cross volunteer Greg Clover stands amidst some of the
1 million bottles of water in the Red  Cross warehouse he
manages in South Carolina. Clover is an employee of Home
Depot which provides unlimited leave to employees on
Red Cross deployment.
 
Story and photo by Don Underwood, American Red Cross

It takes a combination of Red Cross volunteers and generous corporate partners like Home Depot to bring help and hope to survivors of disasters like the historic South Carolina flooding.

“Out of sheer will power, we make things work at a disaster,” said Greg Clover, a Red Cross volunteer from La Jolla, California.

Being able to respond to a Red Cross request for his services as a warehouse manager is made easier because he works for Home Depot, a long-time Red Cross partner. The Home Depot Foundation helps ensure Red Cross can respond immediately by donating $500,000 annually to the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program.

When he needs to leave, Home Depot gives Greg unlimited, unpaid leave from his job at the Home Depot store where he works in the building materials section. He said it’s the same policy Home Depot has for its employees called to active military duty.

“They understand it's good work to deploy with the Red Cross to relieve suffering and meet the needs of a community,” he said. “They’re happy I’m out here.”

During his time in South Carolina, representatives from Home Depot and other corporate partners were brought in to the warehouse Greg was managing to see its operations.

“I was really proud to have our partners come here because what they do for the Red Cross is so important,” he said. “All of these things you see in [the warehouse] didn’t just show up out of the blue…these partners made it possible with their support.”
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Financial donations to the American Red Cross are being used to provide help to people in need right now and will enable us to continue providing help as communities recover. The Red Cross depends on the continued support of the public to help people affected by disasters big and small. Donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. 


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