Pharmacy chains and food and drug retailers are answering the call for help in the Haiti earthquake disaster by providing cash donations and enabling employees and customers to donate to relief efforts. 


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Retail News Breaks

Chain drug retailers aid in Haiti relief effort

January 15th, 2010
U.S. Navy personnel unload relief supplies after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

NEW YORK – Pharmacy chains and food and drug retailers are answering the call for help in the Haiti earthquake disaster by providing cash donations and enabling employees and customers to donate to relief efforts. 

CVS Caremark Corp. on Friday said it has donated $175,000 to various humanitarian organizations involved in the relief initiative. The American Red Cross has received $125,000, while CVS has directed $25,000 to Partners in Health, based in Boston, and $25,000 to Operation Helping Hands, based in Miami.

Partners in Health operates a network of clinics in Haiti that provide much-needed health services, while Operation Helping Hands is a partnership between the United Way of Miami-Dade and the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald established to provide residents of south Florida a way to help neighbors in need.

The drug chain added that the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust also will match all CVS employee donations to the American Red Cross that are made through the end of this month.

Walgreen Co. on Wednesday announced that it's donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross and will match employee donations on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to $50,000.

The retailer is also providing nonperishable food, water and medical supplies to the University of Miami Global Institute for Community Health and Development, which has established clinics and triage units on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s largest city, which is located just miles from the quake’s epicenter. Walgreens stores in the Miami area are also taking donations for local Red Cross relief efforts.

On Thursday, Rite Aid Corp. said it's making a $50,000 donation to the Red Cross International Response Fund and is launching a fundraising program for customers and associates.

Through the effort, customers can buy $1 disaster relief certificates at any Rite Aid store in a program similar to those the chain operated for aid victims of the Asian tsunami in 2004 and 9/11 attacks in New York. All funds will be donated to the Red Cross.

Metropolitan New York drug chain Duane Reade announced on Thursday that it is partnering with MoneyGram International to enable the chain’s customers to wire funds to Haiti free up to January 24. Duane Reade offers MoneyGram services at about 180 of its 250-plus stores.

Also, the Duane Reade Charitable Foundation has made a cash contribution of $10,000 to the American Red Cross International Relief Fund and will match employee donations dollar-for-dollar up to an additional $10,000.

Meanwhile, in Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) Corp. is providing more than $100,000 thorugh a combined donation of product and financial support.

SDM and its sister chain, Pharmaprix, have assembled $100,000 worthof products, including water, first aid and personal care items, which is being distributed by Yele Haiti, a charitable grassroots organization based in Haiti. SDM customers also can donate their Shoppers Optimum Points to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Alliance.

And Jean Coutu Group has enabled customers of its drug stores in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick to make donations at checkout. The company said all of the funds collected will be donated to Oxfam in support of the emergency intervention operations.

"Doing our part to assist in the national and international efforts to help victims and families is extremely important to us," chief executive officer Francois Coutu said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks and months to find out how we can further assist in the relief effort."

To assist relief efforts, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores has launched a two-pronged initiative.

NACDS has informed all members that it is coordinating with the American Society of Association Executives, with federal government agencies and with the Rx Response prescription drug supply chain group to identify opportunities to assist. The association also has begun posting information about the relief activities of member companies on its web site.

A host of food and drug retailers, including discount store and supermarket chains, also are making cash donations, providing food and other necessities, and working with humanitarian and relief organizations, as well as setting up programs to allow customers to make donations. They include Walmart, Target, Safeway, Winn-Dixie, Publix, Kroger and its Ralphs and Food 4 Less chains, Wegmans Food Markets and Weis Markets.

In just the first two days after the earthquake, the Red Cross had received more than $35 million, a record amount in a 48-hour period, the agency said.

The scale of the disaster almost defies relief efforts, with some sources estimating that almost a third of Haiti’s 9 million residents are dead, injured or homeless. In addition, the country’s infrastructure, weak to begin with, has been devastated, with phone communication and electricity knocked out as well as major damage to roads and hospitals.

*Editor's Note: This article was updated January 20 with more information on retailer relief efforts.

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