September 9, 2005

Katrina (Updated)

* For the latest disaster relief news from Wal-Mart, click here *

Wal-Mart has set up a national online system that allows people affected by the disaster to be able contact one another. Using the Community Crisis System, you may post comments stating your whereabouts, or your concern for someone specific, and search the database by first and last name.

*9/7 -- In the WSJ, Alan Murray writes about the epiphany of big business in the wake of Katrina, but also about the limits to charity because of its corporate structure:

As for the obligation to shareholders, Mr. Odland says that if his charity efforts help New Orleans recover, it will help his company as well. Mr. Scott calls it a balancing act. "We can't send three trailer loads of merchandise to every group that asks for it," he says. He tells of being in Houston on Monday, and talking to someone who wanted Wal-Mart to donate 2,000 blankets to help refugees. Mr. Scott turned down the request. "We have to, at the end of this, have a viable business," he explains.

*9/9 -- 15 stores still closed.

*9/6 -- Wal-Mart associates provide stories from the front.

*9/6 -- Wal-Mart's Mini-Stores are operational in the Cajun Dome, Monroe Civic Center.

*9/6 -- In addition to Wal-Mart's corporate donations, The Walton Family Foundation has donated $15M:

Separately, the Walton Family Foundation is providing $8 million to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. The Walton Family Foundation has already donated an additional $7 million to organizations such as The Salvation Army, America’s Second Harvest and Foundation for the Mid-South.

*9/6 -- On page D1 of the WaPo, Wal-Mart is at the forefront of hurricaine relief:

At 8 a.m. on Wednesday, as New Orleans filled with water, Wal-Mart chief executive H. Lee Scott Jr. called an emergency meeting of his top lieutenants and warned them he did not want a "measured response" to the hurricane.

"I want us to respond in a way appropriate to our size and the impact we can have," he said, according to an executive who attended the meeting. At the time, Wal-Mart had pledged $2 million to the relief efforts. "Should it be $10 million?" Scott asked.

Over the next few days, Wal-Mart's response to Katrina -- an unrivaled $20 million in cash donations, 1,500 truckloads of free merchandise, food for 100,000 meals and the promise of a job for every one of its displaced workers -- has turned the chain into an unexpected lifeline for much of the Southeast and earned it near-universal praise at a time when the company is struggling to burnish its image.

This does indeed set a new standard for corporate response to disaster; whether done out of sincere motives or not, with $20M in cash and in-kind, Wal-Mart has finally received extremely positive news coverage.

*9/6 -- Meanwhile, there are many examples of Wal-Mart asssociates being given temporary work outside the disaster area.

*9/6 -- To boost morale, WM store managers are showing a video to associates of all that WM is doing in response to Katrina.

1. 123 Wal-Mart stores closed, mostly due to loss of power (with 70 reopened as of 9/1/05, and only 18 closed as of 9/6/05. More details about damage here.)

2. Ball joints to haul trailers most popular item before the storm.

3. Families sought refuge in Wal-Mart parking lots??? A commenter on Wal-Mart Watch claims a Target store collapsed.

4. Wal-Mart donates $1M to the Salvation Army and another $1M to the Red Cross. Target donates $1.5 million to the Red Cross. Later, H. Lee Scott announced a donation of $15M to flood victims and the opening of mini-Wal-Mart stores to give away supplies:

As part of Wal-Mart's commitment it will establish mini-Wal-Mart stores in areas impacted by the hurricane. The stores will give away essential items, including clothing, diapers, baby wipes, food, formula toothbrushes, bedding, and water.

5. The looting of Wal-Mart is now a local pastime:

Why stop at everyday low prices?

Giant discount retailer Wal-Mart Stores became a major target for looters rummaging in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina on Wednesday, with thieves hitting the store's gun racks while also ransacking for food and clothing.

The Wal-Mart store in the Lower Garden District in New Orleans was missing its entire stock of guns, according to the local Times-Picayune newspaper, which also said looting for guns and other goods was prevalent in other stores....

Wal-Mart has reopened about 70 of the 123 stores that were shut down in the immediate aftermath of Katrina's strike on Monday...

The strangely peaceful looting of the wrecked store (people selecting goods off the shelves, and placing them gently in shopping carts) was caught on camera:
Residents are seen looting a Wal-Mart and a Walgreens in full view of camera crews and security guards.

In one scene, several people dressed in security guard uniforms join the looters in stripping the Wal-Mart store.

Then other people dressed as security guards arrived and detain some looters.

Reportedly, troops armed with M-16 rifles arrived at the Wal-Mart to disburse the crowd.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told NBC's Matt Lauer that while officials were deeply concerned about the looting, the government was focused on repairing huge holes in the city's levee system and saving people trapped by floods.

Even the security guards POLICE! are looting:

sg_loot.jpg

Also, Crooks and Liars has MSNBC video of Countdown reporter Martin Savidge confronting the police and other looters.

6. I should also note Wal-Mart will pay associates whose stores have closed three days of pay, even if they were not even scheduled for work:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. initially closed 156 stores in the affected areas. As of yesterday afternoon, 46 were closed. Before the hurricane hit, workers were given a toll-free number to call for assistance or to find out if their store had reopened.

Wal-Mart employees whose stores were shut received pay for the first three days the store was closed, whether they were scheduled to work or not. Employees who need money for food or clothes can ask store managers for $250 in cash assistance. Employees whose stores do not reopen in three days will be provided temporary work at other Wal-Mart or Sam's Club stores if they can get there, according to a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

The company's "associate disaster relief fund" provides financial help to employees for lodging and food. "We've not had to do this to this degree" before, said Sarah Clark, a spokeswoman. She could not estimate how much money Wal-Mart might spend helping employees.


katrinabadge.gif
See more details at the WM Associates Blog, on which one associate has an interesting photo of a Wal-Mart badge, while another poster describes the damage to several WM stores:
Store 5079, Pass Christian, MI
There is 1/2 of 1 wall left. The only items that were found were an item from the cash office, and 1 camera from the roof.

Store 1088, Biloxi, MI
The roof had 30+ holes in it. The whole backwall is gone, which means that receiving is gone and all of the offices.

Store 1195, Waveland, MI
Had 19 feet of water. Of course most, if not all the merchandise is destroyed and everything has been moved around, i.e. the meat freezers, etc.


Posted by Kevin at 9:29 AM

June 3, 2005

The Scholar

Whether for charity or PR, it's worth noting that WM will be co-sponsoring a reality-TV show -- The Scholar:

For the first time, Wal-Mart Stores is becoming a major sponsor of a reality television show, by signing a branded-entertainment agreement with ABC for "The Scholar," a summer series that begins a six-week run on Monday night. Wal-Mart will be woven into the plots of episodes of the show, which is centered on a competition among 10 high school seniors from across the country for a grand prize of a full college scholarship, valued at $250,000, covering tuition and expenses.

The students will compete in a variety of academic, creative and social tasks, including team challenges, oral exams and defending themselves before a scholarship committee. In one challenge, the five members of the winning team each receive a $2,000 Wal-Mart gift card to outfit their dormitory rooms. And Wal-Mart is underwriting the cost of the scholarships for the nine runners-up, totaling $300,000. (The Broad Foundation in Los Angeles is donating the grand prize.)

There will also be commercials during the show promoting the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club Foundation's long-running program offering scholarships to students in towns where it operates stores and distribution centers.

Here's the ABC website; the high-schoolers are a top-notch bunch... Also, here's a press release about filming a commercial for the show in Tallahassee

Posted by Kevin at 1:11 PM

May 24, 2005

More on Crystal Bridges

The Crystal Bridges Wal-Mart museum is taking shape:

The new Crystal Bridges museum of American art is designed by Moshe Safdie, the Canadian-Israeli architect whose previous work includes the recently opened Yad Vashem holocaust museum in Jerusalem. It will be built within walking distance of the main square of Bentonville, Arkansas, home town of the world's largest retailer....

The museum, funded by the Walton Family Foundation and expected to cost above $50m, will house works by Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell, Marsden Hartley and other American artists that have been steadily acquired for the foundation by Alice Walton, Sam's daughter, over the past 15 years.

Related Entry: "Kindred Spirits"

Posted by Kevin at 12:32 PM

May 15, 2005

"Kindred Spirits" Bought by Waltons

The Metropolitan Museum and National Gallery were jointly outbid, so the painting will be displayed in the future Bentonville museum:

Over the last two or three years Ms. Walton has been a major buyer of American paintings at Sotheby's and Christie's, snapping up works by Winslow Homer, Martin Johnson Meade, Edward Hopper and other artists. But the Durand is expected to be a cornerstone of the new museum's collection.

The painting, which depicts the painter Thomas Cole and the poet William Cullen Bryant standing on a rocky ledge overlooking the Catskills, is titled after a phrase in a Keats sonnet and has long been considered one of the finest examples of Hudson River School painting. It was commissioned by Jonathan Sturges, one of Durand's most important patrons, as a gift for Bryant, and it remained in the Bryant family until his daughter, Julia, donated it to the New York Public Library early in the 20th century.

The Walton Family Foundation's museum, to be called Crystal Bridges, takes its name from an inspired glass-and-wood design that traverses a local spring-fed stream. Designed by the Boston-based architect Moshe Safdie, the museum will "present perspectives on the flow of America's history and heritage through the eyes of the nation's most influential artists," according to a statement released yesterday by the Walton Family Foundation.

More on Crystal Bridges from the AP and the Wal-Mart Family Foundation's press release.

Posted by Kevin at 3:16 PM

April 12, 2005

"Acres for America"

Wal-Mart will preserve as much habitat as it takes away for development (pr):

Acres for America will permanently conserve at least one acre of priority
wildlife habitat for every developed acre of Wal-Mart's current footprint, as
well as the company's future development over the next 10 years. This puts
the minimum total acres to be protected at 138,000. Lands conserved will
benefit a wide variety of wildlife, including large and small mammals,
freshwater and saltwater fish, migratory and neo-tropical birds and native
plants.

"Wal-Mart is the first corporation to commit to offsetting its entire
developed land use for conservation," said Max Chapman, Jr., Foundation
chairman. "We introduced the concept of the offset program to Wal-Mart last
year," he said. "They were quick to say yes, and Wal-Mart's leadership is
raising the bar in conservation."

Question: Is the net return on this investment positive?

Posted by Kevin at 11:48 AM

February 1, 2005

Vial of Life

It's hard to estimate how effective this program will be:

Wal-Mart Pharmacy's Vial of Life program is a free service that provides customers with kits that notify emergency personnel of a patient's special circumstances, enabling them to adjust treatment as needed.

"Wal-Mart is proud to offer this free service to our customers," said Jim Martin, senior vice president of pharmacy for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. "By helping our customers get important medical information into the hands of emergency personnel, we can help save crucial minutes and even lives."

The kit consists of medical information sheets, a vial with a label and a press-on sticker. Customers simply fill out the medical information sheets, place them in the vials and set the vials on the top shelf in their refrigerator door.

They place the press-on stickers in the front entrance or windows of their homes to alert emergency personnel to the vials so they can consult the medical information sheets before giving care.

Posted by Kevin at 7:10 AM

January 5, 2005

WM Tsunami Relief

The Wal-Mart foundation gives $2 million to the American Red Cross for Tsunami relief efforts:

Wal-Mart announced today the Wal-Mart & SAM'S CLUB Foundation will make an immediate $2 million contribution to the Red Cross in specific support of the Tsunami relief efforts. The company will also establish collection points in all of its Wal-Mart stores (Nachrichten), Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, SAM'S CLUB and distribution locations in the U.S. Customers and associates will be able to make cash contributions at marked containers in each store or club and also online at walmart.com and samsclub.com.

In addition, to assist customers attempting to help family and friends in the affected areas, Wal-Mart has reduced the cost of wiring money via MoneyGram in its stores to individuals in the region. Wal-Mart also will allow free wire transfers for customers who send an Express Payment to the Red Cross Tsunami Fund.

Posted by Kevin at 11:37 AM

December 22, 2004

Christmas Cheer at WM

Here are 3 small and large donations from Wal-Mart to local communities and beyond:

1. WM matches all donations made to the Salvation Army outside of its stores.

2. WM donates an artificial Christmas tree with red and green lights showing injuries due to drunk driving.

3. WM gives $6500 in cash to local groups in Montgomery, AL.

Posted by Kevin at 12:41 PM

November 15, 2004

Wal-Mart Touts its Various Efforts on Behalf of U.S. Service Men and Women Serving Overseas

*Updated*
(see below @ *Update*)


Just came across a recent Wal-Mart press release (dated Tuesday November 9, 2004) concerning how their 'M.A.C.K. Packs' Connect 900,000 Service Men and Women to Loved Ones Back Home:

Phone Cards, E-mails and Message Books Link Family and Friends


BENTONVILLE, Ark., Nov. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Nothing compares to a word from home -- or a chance to send word home to loved ones. For more than 900,000 active duty service members, communicating with family and friends this holiday season just became a lot easier.

A gift from the Wal-Mart & SAM'S CLUB Foundation to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Foundation will provide M.A.C.K Packs to every member of the armed services deployed overseas. M.A.C.K. stands for Military Assistance Communications Kit. Each kit includes a phone card, writing paper, note cards, envelopes, a folder with a 2005 calendar and a letter of support. The kits will be Fed Ex'ed to the troops overseas beginning on Veteran's Day, allowing some 900,000 members of the military to call and write loved ones from virtually anywhere in the world this holiday season.

"Our troops love nothing more than to know that they are remembered and appreciated," said VFW Adjutant General John J. Senk, Jr. "Out of all the hardships our military endure, the hardest thing is being away from family and friends. The M.A.C.K. Pack kits will bring a little bit of home to them and help them connect with their loved ones -- it's a gift of communication. Wal- Mart's tremendous support for our troops and veterans now and through the years has been remarkable."

[...]


Read the press release in full, here.


*Update*

In addition to the above mentioned press release however, WM also has several informative pages (ten at this point in time) -- including some archived news articles -- documenting their various efforts and programs for Supporting Our Troops and their families (left-hand menu under the main heading of Supporting Our Troops, which is highlighted in red).

Posted by Morgan at 1:08 AM

November 14, 2004

Wal-Mart Gift Registry Kiosk's Offer Access to the Internet's Operation Dear Abby

*Updated 3x*

However one may personally feel about the U.S. led war in Iraq, for those not already aware of it and whom are inclined to do so, anyone may use Operation Dear Abby to send an e-mail to *AnyServiceMember* (i.e., generally speaking) of each of the five branches of the U.S. military (one branch at a time, depending on which one you may select) and, as I understand it anyway, whether they may be serving in Iraq or elsewhere, including here within the U.S.A. and, also includes those whom have been injured and hospitalized of course (note that message text is limited to only 1000 characters, including spaces).


What Does this Have to do with WalMart, You Ask?

Due to an associates suggestion about whether the company could help out in making Operation Dear Abby accessible to those whom may lack Internet access, in rather short order Wal-Mart made:

[...] it possible for customers to access operationdearabby.net through the gift registry kiosk. In its first seven days it was available, 123,467 messages had been sent through the gift registry.

[...]

Read about it in full via the Wal-Mart Foundation Website, here.


For additional information concerning Operation Dear Abby, read the following items:


What More Can I Do to Support Our Troops?

By the way and, most importantly, if you find yourself wondering what *more* you could do along these same or, even better, other lines in supporting our troops and their families, click here for additional information.

In addition, The Art of the Blog has posted a blog post with an ever growing and updated compilation of links to all sorts of resources they have come across from one place or another, here [via Verns blog, here].

In fact I particularly like the link for the Website set up for people have a way to Send Pizza to our Troops (yet while I don't mean to give into cynical doubts at all, am just hoping it is the real deal and they are making good on delivering every time to the regions they state our troops are currently be served via their arrangements: i.e., certain areas of the Gulf and Middle East).


Had originally come across Operation Dear Abby earlier today when I paid a visit to Crickets blog. Her blog post (here) on the subject has additional insights concerning the program in general. [Thanks Cricket!]


*Note*: added link to AARP Magazine Mail Call article; added link to *recent* Houston Chronicle Dear Abby column; expanded the resource links portion concerning what more people can do ..., which is now under the heading of What More Can I Do to Support Our Troops?: last updated on Monday, November 15, 2004 at 2:59 AM [EST].

Posted by Morgan at 10:05 PM

June 11, 2004

Dubble Bubble

WM supports the bubble blowing contest:

WASHINGTON VILLAGE -- Gum-chewing bubble-blowing connoisseurs are invited to visit Coventry Wal-Mart tomorrow to participate in a national blow off.

Double Bubble, the world�s first bubble gum, is sponsoring its fifth annual Double Bubble National Bubble Blowing contest.Bubble blowers are encouraged to try and out blow last year�s reining champion�s winning 14-inch bubble.

All of the participating contestants bubbles will be officially measured using a Double-Bubble Bubble Meter, with the assistance of a local Wal-Mart associate.At the end of the blow off, local Wal-Mart stores will submit the biggest bubble blown in their store to a third party judging organization, which will determine the top six bubbles blown from all entries nationwide, and then name the six national contest finalists.

It's spelled Dubble Bubble.

Posted by Kevin at 9:44 AM

June 9, 2004

Some Donations

WM donated $50K to purchase equipment for San Diego firefighters.

WM also coordinated with Make-a-Wish to give this boy a shopping spree.

Posted by Kevin at 8:22 AM