Businesses Find Creative Solutions to Sandy Victims’ Urgent Needs

November 5, 2012

Superstorm Sandy has inflicted unprecedented damage on the East Coast, leaving many Americans without housing, food or access to basic needs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross have been at the forefront of first response efforts and corporations have already pledged more than $62 million, two-thirds of it in the form of direct monetary donations to first responder organizations.

But some businesses have found ways to leverage their particular non-cash resources to help fill urgent needs. New York Sports Clubs, for instance, along with Halvey Life and Club Fit, have opened their gym facilities to Sandy victims for hot showers, cell phone charges, or the opportunity to work out. Yoga to the People, a New York-based yoga chain, announced Wednesday on their Facebook page that they would be providing free shower facilities.

A peak of 8.5 million households lost power following the storm, making communication very difficult and as of Friday morning, 3.6 million were still without power. As soon as the storm had blown over early Wednesday, Comcast announced that it would open up its Xfinity Wi-Fi hot spots to everyone in ten of the states affected by the storm, free of charge. The Wi-Fi hot spots are normally available only to Comcast customers. While the Wi-Fi hot spots require commercial power, Comcast encouraged people affected by the storm seek out those in nearby malls, shopping districts and parks which do have power.

Local companies are particularly well-equipped to aid in the relief efforts. Brooklyn-based MetroStar Home Health, a home medical equipment company, is using one of its warehouses to run a week-long food, clothing and monetary donation drive. They are accepting donations of canned and nonperishable foods and household options through November 8.

For people who live outside of the immediate range of the disaster zone and want to help, the best way is through monetary donations to first responder organizations, who are equipped to identify the most urgent needs. People who want to donate, but don’t have any extra cash can use ThredUP, an online consignment shop, and its new Groups feature, which allows users to direct the proceeds of their consignment sale to an organization of their choice. All of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Group’s proceeds will go directly to the Red Cross. EBay Give Works’ Hurricane Sandy site offers a similar option, where sellers can designate a percentage of an item’s final sale price to go to a certain charity, which shoppers can view while they browse. EBay credits the seller fees in proportion to the donation, and sends 100% of the proceeds to the seller-specified charity.

The long-term relief and rebuilding process will require large-scale monetary donations, but these companies have found ways for volunteers to contribute and Hurricane Sandy’s victims to receive much-needed relief in very concrete ways.