Local businesses answer call for help in South

Companies collect donations for Red Cross and match employee contributions

More than 2,000 miles separate Southwest Washington from the southern coastal states battered by Hurricane Katrina. And the images and stories transmitted from the site of the disaster make it seem worlds away. But local individuals, businesses and organizations are making a point to contribute to relief efforts in the affected region.

According to the local chapter of the American Red Cross, more than $30,000 in donations had been collected in Clark County as of Tuesday morning.

The majority of contributions are made by individuals, but a long list of local businesses have entered into agreements with the Red Cross to assist in the collection effort by accepting donations at places of business. And many businesses have also made contributions to the relief effort and are matching employee donations.

Cowlitz Bancorp is accepting donations for the Red Cross at all of its Cowlitz Bank and Bay Bank branch locations.

“It’s important for Cowlitz to look out for our own community,” said Lynda Altman, vice president of marketing and administration. “And we can serve our community by making it easy for them to contribute donations to this relief effort.”

Altman said the company also plans to make a monetary donation, possibly through matching employee contributions. An amount has not been specified.

Vancouver’s Campbell Pet Company supported the relief effort by providing pet supplies to the American Humane Association to assist in the effort of handling animals affected by the hurricane.

While the focus on saving humans is paramount, sometimes the animals are forgotten, said company President Laurie Campbell-Leslie.
“(Pets) are our business,” she said. “We can offer things that would be helpful to them.”

Campbell-Leslie sees their contributions to the relief effort and annual donations made to local organizations as “part of our ministry. It’s what we need to do”

The law firm of Schwabe Williamson and Wyatt, which has an office in Vancouver, originally told its employees it would match contributions up to $1,500. But with donations totaling $7,000 from 61 employees so far, Managing Partner Mark Long said the firm will up its match to $15,000.

“We have all benefited by being members of a community, and I think this response is recognition of the need to give back,” said Long. “And I can’t think of a circumstance that screams for a greater need than Hurricane Katrina.”

The company’s donations will be split between the Red Cross and Mercy Corps. In addition, Long said the firm has established relationships with firms whose offices have been displaced due to the disaster, and Schwabe has offered to temporarily house attorneys to allow them to continue practicing.

The Holland Inc. is one of the many businesses collecting donations at all of its locations for the Red Cross. The company also donated bottled water to the relief effort.

“We are committed to serving the community and doing what we can to help those in need,” said Charlena Miller, director of marketing and communication. “It is a part of our mission.

DeAnna Woolston, local Red Cross community relations director said Clark County contributions have been generous.

“Nobody knew what to expect,” she said. “This is the largest disaster the Red Cross has responded to in the United States. The generosity has been wonderful.”

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