Hy-Vee Chairman Ron Pearson and CEO Ric Jurgens said the fund-raising drive is a grassroots effort.
"Many of our employees and customers have expressed a desire to help the victims of this tragedy, but they're not sure how they can make a difference," Jurgens said. "We want to make it easy for them to contribute in a direct, meaningful way. To kick off this fund-raising effort, Hy-Vee is proud to put in the first $100,000."
Money raised will go to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which has established more than 230 shelters in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Leslie Schaffer, executive director of the Central Iowa Chapter of the Red Cross, said the organization's priorities are feeding and sheltering victims of the disaster, providing medical care and establishing a database to help people find each other.
"We're really talking about two disasters � the effects of Hurricane Katrina, and the devastation caused by the flooding in New Orleans," Schaffer said. "Thousands of those left homeless are coming to our shelters looking for a hot meal, a place to rest and a way to get in touch with family members and let them know they're okay."
Schaffer expressed her appreciation to Hy-Vee for launching the fund-raising drive.
"Hy-Vee is always quick to step forward and ask what the company can do to help," Schaffer said. "In this case, the corporate donation and the money collected at stores throughout the Midwest will go directly to the Gulf states to take care of people's immediate needs."
Schaffer emphasized that making a cash donation is the most effective way for people to help the victims.
"We have more than 2,000 volunteers either in the area or headed there now, and all their time will be needed to care for victims 24 hours a day," she said. "Donations of food or clothing require sorting, transportation, storage and distribution, all of which are difficult in a disaster zone. We encourage people to donate those items to local agencies that really need them, and help disaster victims in other areas by donating cash to provide immediate relief services."
Individuals who want to donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Funds can do so at any of the 221 Hy-Vee stores or Hy-Vee Drugstores in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.
One hundred percent of the money raised will go to disaster relief efforts in the Gulf area.
Hy-Vee has partnered with the Red Cross on several occasions to assist with disaster relief and recovery. In January of this year, the company contributed $100,000 to aid tsunami victims in Indonesia and southern Asia. It also made a $100,000 contribution to assist with relief efforts in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating 221 retail stores in seven Midwestern states.
In 2004 the company recorded $4.6 billion in sales, ranking it among the top 15 supermarket chains and the top 30 private companies in the United States.