Being a frequent flier, I’m usually not really excited about being on a plane at 8 a.m. on Monday morning. I’m also not usually dressed in sneakers, jeans and an orange t-shirt and planning on getting dirty and sweaty. Today’s a little different, though, as it promises to be one of the most meaningful days I’ve had in a long time. Why? I’m on the way to Joplin, Missouri with about 200 of my fellow Home Depot associates from Atlanta.
We’re among the fortunate ones who are able to volunteer to go help clean up and make repairs in the aftermath of the devastating tornado that hit Joplin on May 22. I say “fortunate” not only because our community was not destroyed by storm, but also because there’s a waiting list of people who wanted to participate. While I went to Joplin immediately after the tornado to assess the damage and determine how The Home Depot Foundation could best help the community as well as our own associates, today is the first time most of the associates from Atlanta have been to visit. But they, as well as scores of other associates from as far away as Seattle, have been asking for the opportunity to volunteer in Joplin since the day after the tornado.
Many of today’s volunteers work at our Store Support Center in Atlanta and have been instrumental in helping the community and associates recover and in preparing for the opening of a new temporary store to serve customers after our store was destroyed by the tornado. They all wanted to come in person and show their support with their own sweat equity.
We’re focusing on two main projects today. We are repairing and replacing the roof, windows and siding on a Home Depot associate’s home which was severely damaged by the tornado. In addition, we’ll be repairing and renovating the local Little League Park so that the entire community has one place where things are returned to normal…where families and children can play.
Our associates volunteering today add to the more than 500 Home Depot associates throughout the Midwest who have already made the trek to Joplin to volunteer their time and specialized skills to help with clean up and repair activities. It’s been an amazing show of support for each other and for the community.
We’re committed to Joplin for the long haul. In addition to volunteer activities, The Home Depot Foundation has pledged $1 million to clean-up and rebuilding initiatives. We’ve already distributed $250,000 to the Joplin Family YMCA for the Joplin Childcare Relief Program that provides free day care services to the community during the immediate relief efforts; and to Convoy of Hope and Operation Blessing, two nonprofit organizations that are doing amazing work to help residents in need.
The flight attendant is telling me to shut down, but I have to first sincerely thank our fellow Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, Georgia Pacific, Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A for helping make today happen. Delta generously provided a 757 jet free of charge to fly us this morning at no small cost to them…$50,000 to be exact; Georgia-Pacific donated several thousand pounds of paper plates, cups, napkins and other products for Convoy of Hope’s relief efforts; and Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A are providing us with food and drinks throughout the day. We are grateful to our corporate friends for jumping into this initiative with no hesitation.
More later…stay tuned for additional updates throughout the day by following us on Twitter (@homedepotfdn or @homedepot).