Helping hands … and trucks

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The human suffering and destruction visited upon Oklahoma earlier this week by a series of violent tornadoes is heart wrenching to say the very least – with the vortex’s themselves frightening to behold as you can see in the clip below:

Yet again, though, in times of need like this there is never a shortage of American companies, individuals, and institutions ready to pitch in and help the survivors of this terrible weather event to start getting back on their feet.

For starters, the Ford Motor Company Fund donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross, with $150,000being given by Oklahoma Ford Dealers to the United Way. Ford is also is donating a new Transit Connect van to the American Red Cross, while providing $500 for drivers with tornado-damaged vehicles in affected areas toward the purchase of a new Ford vehicle.

"The impact of these tornadoes is devastating on thousands of families," said Jim Vella, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund. "We know there is great need for assistance, and Ford, its dealers and employees are coming together to provide needed resources.”

"We know how much this tragedy is impacting our customers, neighbors and friends," added Craig Billingsley, chairman of the Oklahoma Ford Dealers. “That’s why Ford is an active partner in the Red Cross Disaster Responder program. Through this program, a select group of companies pledge donations on an ongoing basis in advance of major disasters, which helps the Red Cross ensure an immediate response to meet the needs of those affected by disasters.”

Then there's the Chrysler Foundation – the charitable arm of Chrysler Group LLC –which is also lending a helping hand by providing $100,000 to First Response Team of America, a nonprofit disaster relief organization which assists local first responders with rescues and also provides help with cleanup efforts.

This team travels from disaster to disaster lending a hand and assisting with rubble and water rescues and cleanups, clearing roads, creating a way into the community by removing debris and pumping out floodwaters, powering up emergency rooms, nursing homes and shelters and clearing home sites for those without insurance.

Chrysler noted that the team tracks weather conditions so it is positioned to be nearby and ready to assist when disaster strikes – relying on heavy equipment that includes Ram heavy-duty trucks, multi terrain loaders, cranes, lighting towers, plasma cutters and a hovercraft for water rescues.

"We know that the road to recovery for the residents of Moore and Oklahoma City will be long," said Reid Bigland, president and CEO of Chrysler’s Ram Truck Brand.

He added that Ram announced a partnership with The Weather Channel Companies (TWCC) and First Response Team of America last year – donating three of its trucks to the team – and sponsors a “cross-platform” series developed by TWCC of in-the-field "Responding by Storm" reports chronicling the works of the team.

This kind of disaster relief effort is nothing new to Chrysler, either. Last year, for example, in the wake “Superstorm” Sandy, the OEM donated 20 Ram 1500 Tradesman trucks and $100,000 to the American Red Cross.

The General Motors Foundation – an arm of vehicle maker General Motors – is also getting involved, pledging $50,000, with its Chevrolet divisions donating a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup to Forgotten Harvest to assist with the organization's "Help 4 Oklahoma" campaign to get supplies to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and help those impacted by this week's devastating tornadoes.

"The GM Foundation's $50,000 donation to Forgotten Harvest for 'Help 4 Oklahoma' is just the first step in our support for those impacted by the tornadoes," said Selim Bingol, GM's global VP of communications and public policy and the Foundation's chairman.

"Our employees want to help and will volunteer locally at Forgotten Harvest, and we will engage our plants and other facilities across the U.S. to collect food to help this effort," Bingol added.

"We will be collecting shelf-stable foods, and medical and hygiene products for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma," noted Susan Goodell, CEO of Forgotten Harvest. "Vehicles will be instrumental in the implementation of this effort and we thank Chevrolet for this generous donation."

By the way, since 2004, the GM Foundation has provided more than $7 million to global disaster relief efforts. The Foundation is also a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program to ensure that the Red Cross has funds on hand to provide immediate relief when disaster strikes.

Not to be outdone, Love’s Travel Stops announced a $3 million donation to support the immediate and long-term relief efforts in of Moore, Shawnee and surrounding areas of Oklahoma hit by the devastating tornadoes this week.

The first $1 million will be designated to the OK Strong Relief Fund established yesterday by Governor Mary Fallin to meet the long-term needs of victims in partnership with the United Way of Central Oklahoma.

Another donation of $500,000 will be given to Catholic Charities, with the remaining $1.5 million to fund a benefit event to honor those impacted by the storm and to raise additional relief funds.

“Our company has been engrained in the fabric of Oklahoma since 1964,” said Tom Love, the truck stop chain’s chairman and CEO, noting that Love’s operates 63 stores in Oklahoma – including several in close proximity to the destructive path of this week’s twisters.

“Our hearts are saddened by the news of this tragedy affecting so many of our friends and neighbors,” he added. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and all those impacted by this horrific event.”

And those are only some of the many helping hands being reached out towards Oklahoma this week; yet another demonstration of a quintessential American value – to help thy neighbor in times of need. 

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