Retail Pharmacies Pitch in to Help Tornado Victims

By Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor

When a series of violent storms tore through the South in late April, killing several hundred people and causing damage that could approach $2 billion, a number of retail pharmacies offered support by donating funds, food, water, and other supplies to those in need.

Alabama bore the brunt of the damage, as 38 of the state’s 67 counties were declared as disaster areas, and one of its cities—Tuscaloosa—was leveled by a mile-wide tornado. Of the more than 300 reported deaths, 236 people were from Alabama, according to a Washington Post report.

For CVS Caremark, which has 150 stores in Alabama and more than 700 locations across the South, the disaster hit close to home. “We are concerned about the impact these tornadoes have had on our customers, employees and communities,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate communications and community relations at CVS Caremark. Like many retailers, CVS acted quickly to provide relief to those living in Alabama and its neighboring states.

The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, the private foundation managed by CVS Caremark, donated $75,000 to the American Red Cross. CVS/pharmacy locations in Tuscaloosa, Pleasant Grove, Cullman, and Cahaba Heights distributed $130,000 in water, ice, and other supplies to residents of these communities. In addition, CVS/pharmacy brought a mobile pharmacy trailer to Tuscaloosa to help ensure that residents continued to have access to their prescribed medications.

The Rite Aid Foundation made a $50,000 donation to American Red Cross chapters in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, Alabama, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. It also donated $50,000 worth of supplies including water and snacks, batteries, flashlights, first aid products, diapers, baby formula, and cleaning supplies.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed $1 million in cash and in-kind donations to support emergency efforts following the Southern storms, Midwest floods, and Texas wildfires. The company also delivered supplies such as water, food, and first aid kits delivered to organizations providing relief.

Walgreens gave $100,000 to the American Red Cross and provided non-perishable food, medical supplies, and water directly to local shelters and first responders in Alabama and Georgia. Cleaning supplies and 3 truckloads of water were also donated.

Target donated $200,000 in cash to the American Red Cross and made an additional donation of more than $75,000 that included product and relief kits containing hygiene and food items that were distributed to hardest-hit areas. All Target stores in affected areas remained open; additional food, water, and other supplies were allocated to these stores to ensure that residents had access to the supplies they needed to begin the rebuilding effort. Additionally, Target team members and volunteers helped distributed 5000 relief kits between 2 locations in Alabama.

The Kroger Co. committed $250,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to relief efforts, including $150,000 in food contributions to local Feeding America food banks. In addition, The Kroger Co. Foundation donated $100,000 in cash to the American Red Cross to match customer donations collected at the register in several hundred Kroger stores.

Publix Super Markets established a program to enable customers to donate any amount by adding it to their grocery totals when checking out at Publix registers. Publix also contributed $100,000 to the American Red Cross for relief efforts for the areas affected by the tornadoes.