Grocery Players Pitch In to Aid Tsunami Victims

NEW YORK - Supermarket chains across the United States are hurrying to offer relief to the victims of the tsunami disaster that buffeted coastal regions in South Asia. Among the many efforts that have surfaced so far:

Food Lion: The Salisbury, N.C.-based chain, through the American Red Cross Disaster Relief - International Response Campaign, is giving $50,000 in cash to support relief efforts. Other Delhaize Group divisions throughout the world, including Food Lion’s sister banner Hannaford, also are contributing to disaster relief funds.

In addition, Food Lion is providing an opportunity for customers and employees to make cash donations, via donation canisters at the checkout lanes in stores. The Food Lion disaster relief campaign will run through Jan. 29.

Stop & Shop/Giant Landover: Stop & Shop/Giant Landover, two U.S. banners of Ahold USA, are chipping in $50,000, earmarking the funds for organizations providing shelter, food, and clean water to survivors.

"This tragedy isn't limited to one part of the world; its effects are felt all around the globe," said Marc Smith, president and c.e.o. of Stop & Shop/Giant Landover. "We have a responsibility to reach out and do what we can to help in this time of crisis."

Bashas’, Inc.: Customers at any of the 151 Bashas’, Food City, and AJ’s Fine Foods stores throughout Arizona can tell cashiers to add a specific dollar amount to their grocery totals to benefit the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will support relief efforts not only for victims of the recent earthquake and tsunamis that devastated parts of southern Asia and eastern Africa, but also victims of other disasters that occur outside the United States every year.

The fundraiser will also benefit the local Disaster Relief Funds for the Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter and the Southern Arizona Chapter. These funds are used to provide emergency relief to Arizonans affected by natural disasters in the state, such as recent flooding in northern Arizona.

Bashas’ spokeswoman Diana Bejarano-Medina told Progressive Grocer: “The idea to help and to partner with the Red Cross came from the top -- Eddie Basha, chairman of the board and c.e.o., and Bashas' president Mike Proulx were both moved by the devastation of the tsunami and earthquake in southeastern Asia, and immediately contacted the Red Cross to ask how we could best help. Simultaneously, our customers began to call, and our employees began to ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ In addition to opening all of our stores as a collection point for the Red Cross, one of our Bashas' employees organized a BBQ fundraiser at a local store this past weekend ... because we are locally owned and operated, we are able to react quickly in times of need to help facilitate the process.”

Explaining why Bashas’ fundraising effort went beyond tsunami relief, Bejarano-Medina said: “Several Arizonans have suffered tremendous loss due to the floods in the northern part of our state, as well as an increased number of house and apartment fires [locally]. Last week alone, the local chapter of the American Red Cross responded to a disaster every 12 hours. Thus, the need for disaster relief assistance here in Arizona is vital.”

Ukrop's Super Markets: Local hero Ukrop’s and First Market Bank are offering customers an opportunity to get involved in tsunami relief efforts. Shoppers can add donations in increments of $5, $10, or $20 when checking out at Ukrop's, or they can drop off donations in collection canisters at all First Bank locations. All donations will be sent to the American Red Cross and the Christian Children's Fund.

Ukrop's and First Market Bank will match up to $5,000 donated by customers, according to a Ukrop's spokeswoman in Richmond.

Safeway Stores: Last week, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway launched an initiative in its 1,800-plus stores to receive and process customer contributions to tsunami relief. Shoppers need only tell a cashier the amount they would like added to their grocery bill as a donation to these efforts. The donations, in their entirety, are being forwarded to the Red Cross and UNICEF.

In addition to the in-store fundraising, the Safeway Foundation will make a cash contribution to the Red Cross and UNICEF, and will match the contributions of Safeway employees.

Safeway spokeswoman Teena Massingill explained to Progressive Grocer that the initiative “started in a grass-roots manner,” with individual stores putting out canisters to collect donations for tsumani victims the day after the tragedy struck. Also, shoppers voiced their hope that Safeway, which has a corporate culture that encourages charitable giving, would do something. Shortly afterward, the company unified its fundraising efforts for tsunami relief. According to Massingill, the fundraising effort, which is “just now in full swing,” will last as long as necessary. A similar method of raising funds after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 resulted in more than $4 million in contributions.

Progressive Grocer will continue to report on grocery industry efforts as we learn of them.
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