Corporate Good Deeds After Wal-Mart Wins Officials Praise

Companies like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) that opened their wallets to relief efforts almost before Sandy’s floodwaters had fully receded have won the heartfelt thanks of elected leaders working around the clock to improve their communities’ lives.

Wal-Mart joined JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and others in offering more than $1 million each last week to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy. The retailer’s $1.5 million pledge has added to the almost $85 million raised by the American Red Cross, the largest Red Cross effort in the U.S. in the past five years.

The world’s largest retailer has been “extraordinarily generous,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said Nov. 3 at a Little Ferry, New Jersey, store where Wal-Mart was giving out water. According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Wal-Mart’s and PepsiCo Inc. (PEP)’s corporate leaderships are “awesome.”

Along with funding raised by other relief agencies, these companies are stepping in to assist leaders deal with the aftermath of Sandy, the Atlantic’s largest recorded tropical storm, which slammed into the U.S. East Coast on Oct. 29. The superstorm caused as much as $50 billion in economic damage, according to Eqecat Inc., a risk-management company in Oakland, California.

“I want to thank Wal-Mart,” Christie said at his press conference. “They have been extraordinarily generous to the state of New Jersey in many different ways.”

Wal-Mart and PepsiCo each sent five tractor trailers of goods that will be distributed by the National Guard, Cuomo, a Democrat, said yesterday at a press conference in New York city.

JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs

Although Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, got a lot of the praise, other companies have made bigger pledges.

JPMorgan has promised as much as $5 million in charitable donations to the American Red Cross and local agencies aiding in the recovery efforts, as well as much as $5 billion in reduced cost loan assistance for small and medium sized business affected by Sandy.

Goldman Sachs said Nov. 2 it would donate $5 million for clean-up and recovery efforts and would give $5 million in loans to small businesses impacted by the storm.

Disney and Ralph Lauren Corp. (RL) each committed $2 million to relief efforts.

Red Cross Donations

Citigroup Inc. donated $1 million to the American Red Cross and announced it is suspending foreclosures in the affected area and waiving various bank fees. Department-store chain Kohl’s Corp. (KSS) gave $1 million to the Red Cross for the relief efforts, and Target Corp. (TGT), the Minneapolis-based discount retailer, has donated $500,000.

“Mobilizing for an effort like this is exceptionally expensive, and corporations have really stepped up and been exceptionally generous so far,” said Anne Marie Borrego, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. “Still, there is still a continued need for donations due to the severity of the disaster.”

Logistics Expertise

Recovery progressed slowly in New Jersey, where Sandy came ashore near Atlantic City at 8 p.m. Oct. 29. Christie, a Republican, praised the “patience and resilience” of New Jerseyans.

As of yesterday, 25 percent of homes and businesses in New Jersey, 8 percent of those in New York and 4 percent in Connecticut and West Virginia remained without electricity.

Wal-Mart is also a part of the American Red Cross’s annual disaster giving program, where 39 companies have pledged to donate $1 million a year in advance of disasters.

Wal-Mart’s logistics expertise and wide network of government contacts put it in a position to respond fast when disaster strikes, said Dianna Gee, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

“We have those relationships already,” she said. “When things like this happen, it’s not the time to be passing out business cards.”

The funds have contributed to the largest Red Cross effort in the U.S. in the past five years, according to Borrego, the spokeswoman. The Red Cross has had to mobilize more than 5,000 workers as well as its entire fleet of 320 response vehicles to respond to the storm, she said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cordell Eddings in New York at; Renee Dudley in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Cecile Daurat at; Robin Ajello at

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