Rouses Markets has raised more than $30,000 for Louisiana and Mississippi fishermen affected by the April British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by asking its generous shoppers and employees to give what they could.
“We put paper white boots for sale at each of our registers,” noted company president Donald Rouse, alluding to a well-known symbol for the fisherman. “We only ran the campaign for four weeks, but in that short time, our company, team members and customers raised more than $25,000.”
Additionally, because of Rouses’ local reputation for being “where the chefs shop,” the grocer also teamed up with area restaurants to raise funds. “We linked up with area chefs and restaurateurs,” said Rouse. “White-tablecloth restaurants, neighborhood po-boy places and seafood restaurants participated. I was particularly impressed by Dickie Brennan’s restaurants, which collectively raised more than $3,000.”
Directly after the spill, Rouses implemented further precautions and checkpoints so it could ensure that customers were purchasing 100 percent safe Gulf Coast seafood, but the company wanted to do more, so the “Friends of the Fisherman” program was born. “Our company sells more Louisiana seafood than any other local retailer, so we knew how important it was to make sure our customers understood that they could buy safe Louisiana and Mississippi seafood in our stores,” said Rouse. “But almost 70 percent of domestic shrimp is caught in Gulf Coast waters, and 90 percent of the Gulf Oysters the country eats are caught here. Our local fishermen and depend on sales from around the country for part of their income, and we had no control over that.”
Continued Rouse: “After Katrina and Rita, [and] then again after Gustav and Ike, we saw how a community pulling together could make a difference for a person, a neighborhood, a community, a state, even a region. With the spill, we saw an opportunity to help our fishing communities, and our friends, team members and partners immediately stepped up to join us. I feel good about the money we raised, but even better about the team work that went in to raising it.”
Distribution of the funds is being administered by 501c1 organizations representing not-for-profit funds officially endorsed by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and Mississippi Seafood Marketing.
“Rouses has always been a friend of our fishermen, working hand in hand with them to provide customers with fresh, local seafood,” said Ewell Smith, director of the New Orleans-based Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. “This incredible donation is just one more example of how they are doing their part to help our fishing communities recover from the gulf oil spill.”
Thibodeaux, La.-based Rouses employs 5,200 people at its Louisiana and Mississippi locations.