As the rains from Hurricane Harvey cleared in Texas, corporate disaster relief efforts began in earnest. Some of the country’s biggest retailers stepped up with large cash donations; within days, according to Inc., coffers swelled to more than $157 million.
But on the ground in devastated communities, small local businesses found more hands-on ways to make a difference. Houston furniture seller Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngale opened his showrooms and warehouses as emergency shelters, forgoing a week’s worth of income in the process. “I’m a big believer that it’s better to give than to receive,” he told the New York Times, whose video of McIngale’s story has been viewed more than 2.4 million times.
Area companies that already make giving back a core of their strategy doubled down. Austin-based outdoor retailer Kammok ordinarily gives 1% of topline revenue each year to a local youth nonprofit. On the day after the Harvey hit, it donated 100% of daily sales to hurricane relief efforts, and continues to give 100% of proceeds from the sale of its Texas flag hammocks to the American Red Cross Foundation to support hurricane victims.
Samuel Bistrian, founder of Dallas footwear company Roma Boot, got a firsthand look at the devastation. “You could call this apocalyptic,” he said in a video posted from the scene. Roma, whose motto is “Give Poverty the Boot,” donates a new pair of boots for each pair sold and gives 10% of company proceeds to fund educational initiatives around the world. In Houston, Bistrian handed out more than 1,500 pairs of boots to volunteer workers and those in need, as well as donated a pair for every $10 contributed to the nonprofit Roma Foundation.
Bistrian partnered in his relief efforts with Sevenly, which mobilizes charity-themed campaigns and curates apparel and other products on behalf of causes. In response to Harvey, the company brought together volunteer artists around the country to design the “Hurricane Helpers Collection,” a line of graphic T-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with the Texas flag and mottos like “Together We Can” and “People Matter.” One hundred percent of net proceeds go to support people displaced by hurricanes in Texas and Louisiana, via the Red Cross and Convoy for Hope.
Sevenly noted on its blog that this is the first time in the company’s six-year history that all proceeds from a campaign are being donated to the cause. Said founder Jim Van Eerden, “This is the kind of thing we were created as a brand to do.”