10 Businesses & Organizations Taking Action: The Natural Disaster Crisis & Environment

10/05/2017 10:25 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2017

Within the past 30 days, the world has seen an uptick in natural disasters. If you turn on any news station, you will see the horrific damage accumulated in these communities. Residents in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Mexico, are still in need of bare necessities we take for granted everyday; hygiene supplies, water, food and more. This is the perfect time for everyone to come together and help those affected by these unfortunate events. After scrolling through my Facebook feed, I realized a lot of people want to donate but are not sure how to proceed. I had the opportunity to interview 10 trustworthy businesses and organizations that are giving back.

Kids4Community

It’s hard to get teenagers off their smart phones nowadays, so you could imagine my delight when I was introduced to 13 year old who started his own non-profit. After hearing about the natural disasters across the country, as well as Mexico and Puerto Rico, Kenan Pala, Founder of Kids4Community decided to take action. Kenan and Kids4community assembled 2,000 hygiene kits for Hurricane Harvey victims and over 1,000 care packages for Hurricane Irma victims. This Sunday, October 8th, Kenan is hosting another relief drive to garner supplies for Mexico and Puerto Rico. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kenan on why he started the non-profit Kids4Community, “Kids are the next generation that will run the planet. If they volunteer at a young age, they will witness first hand many of the world’s biggest problems. Then, when they  grow up, they will want to do more to fix these problems and prevent them from happening again. This mindset got me started on my own nonprofit Kids4Community. Our biggest goal is to help kids and their families get involved in the community.”

Sky is the limit for this incredible kid! I asked Kenan how the community reacted to youth volunteers like himself. Kenan added, “Kids have a special ability to make people happy in ways that adults cant. For example, when my younger brother and I volunteer at Interfaith Community Services, it seems like people smiler bigger when we offer them cookies. Volunteering can also teach kids vital life skills. Working at a soup kitchen, for example, can help them learn about nutrition and develop their cooking skills.”

To make a donation, please visit https://kids4.org/donate/

Courtesy of Kids4Community

Guitar Center X MusiCares

Most people don’t know, but I have been a vocalist since I was 10 years old. It was wonderful to see one of my favorite music retailers take action after Hurricane Harvey. Guitar Center partnered with MusiCares to support and rebuild the devastated music communities of South Texas. Guitar Center and MusiCares are seeking music enthusiasts to join in the effort by donating at any Guitar Center location across the country or online. Every dollar donated, Guitar Center will match the contribution, up to $25,000. I think we can all agree, music is a powerful tool. It may be the one thing all people have in common; love for music. In the face of tragedy, music is often utilized to rebuild and recover. Donations will help impacted musicians, songwriters, recording studios and audio professionals rebuild their lives and keep the music going. In addition to the partnership with MusiCares, Guitar Centers in South Texas will work with affected communities to provide replacements for damaged equipment.

“We thank Guitar Center for their partnership in helping to address the hardship caused by this devastating flood,” noted Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy and MusiCares. “When natural disasters like these strike it is always tragic, and we have worked with Guitar Center in the past—to provide much needed resources when the Gulf Coast hurricanes struck in 2005 and again in 2010 to assist with Nashville Flood relief efforts—so it's comforting to know how effective and efficient our alliance is in providing help and hope to music people in need. Together we believe that keeping the music going is an important step in the healing process after a disaster like this,”

Musicians and music professionals can request disaster relief by contacting the South Regional MusiCares office at 615.327.0050 or toll-free at 877.626.2748, or by submitting an application.

Courtesy of MusiCares

Golden Road Brewing

Florida residents are still in dire need of assistance. It was great to see local businesses give back to their communities. The relief efforts need to continue in Southern Florida, where Hurricane Irma’s path of destruction left communities flooded and many without electricity. Golden Road Brewing released, Sunshine State, a new brew that directs 100% of sales to those impacted by the natural disaster. Sales of the new draft will be donated to Habitat for Humanity of Florida and H.A.L.O. Rescue to assist in each organization's ongoing hurricane relief efforts. Plus, the new draft-only brew sounds delicious! Sunshine State is a beautiful blonde ale infused with flavorful blood oranges that burst with bright citrus flavors and aromas. Golden Road truly believes that beer brings people together and Sunshine State is the brewery’s way of taking its passion for beer and bringing people together to lend a hand one pint at a time.

“Relief efforts need to continue well after a hurricane hits, and we knew we had to find a way to support the affected communities. Brewing great beer is what we do best, so creating Sunshine State was an impactful way for Golden Road to help. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the beer are being donated to local relief organizations. In times like this, we all need to come together and pitch in to do our part in supporting relief efforts,” Mark Kamarauskas -  General Manager, Golden Road Brewing. 

Courtesy of Golden Road Brewery

Irini Design

There’s nothing more beautiful than giving back to those in need. Irini Design was founded by Irene Karandrikas.   Irene has always had a giving spirit but after her mom lost a short battle to ALS, she knew she was meant to bring more into this world. The goal of Irini Design is to encourage women to build their jewelry collections with pieces that make them feel beautiful, all while helping others, magnetizing the beauty within. Irini Design donated $50 from all sales in September 2017 to the Save the Children Hurricane Relief Fund.  Customers can also donate 20% to the charity of their choice at http://www.irinidesign.com/

"I have survived each and every hardship in my life by the kindness of at least one person.... I want to be that person for so many others in my lifetime," Irene Karandrikas, Founder of Irini Design.

Courtesy of Irini Design

Cabo Flats - Cabo Cares

Local South Florida businesses like Cabo Flats , a Mexican restaurant and cantina (5 locations in FL), are setting up drop off hubs to gather supplies for Hurricane Irma victims. Cabo Flats set up a donation box to collect all necessary supplies including; toilet paper, paper towels, personal hygiene products, diapers, baby wipes, formula, canned foods like vegetables and fruits, as well as dry goods like cereal, crackers, and granola bars. I had the pleasure of interviewing Max Gonzales, Cabo Flats Area Director about their relief efforts.

Cabo Flats helps a lot of local charities and people in need through something called Cabo Cares. It launched in 2011 as a way t give back to customers across South Florida. All five of our locations shut down before and after Hurricane Irma hit. When we re-opened, we had to help, so we put a big box at the entrance of every Cabo Flats location, from Jupiter to Miami and started collecting things that people in the Florida Keys needed - canned goods, diapers, toiletries, etc. Then, volunteers loaded up a truck and drove down there to hand everything out directly to those who needed it. After the storm, a Miami location was not allowed to open because the mall it was located near was closed... BUT, Cabo Flats opened just for first responders, FPL employees, emergency personnel, and everyone working to get our community back to normal,” stated Max Gonzales, Cabo Flats Area Director.

Courtesy of Cabo Flats

New Waterloo

Hurricane Harvey left Texas devastated with an unbelievable amount of damage. It’s wonderful to see local businesses bring on the “southern hospitality” and help fellow residents in need. Austin-based hospitality firm New Waterloo is supporting relief efforts on the Texas coast by donating a portion of profits to Hurricane Harvey indefinitely. When guests order any of the specialty cocktails from participating restaurants including; Café No Sé & SCH Lobby Bar, Central Standard, Hotel Ella & Goodall's Kitchen, La Condesa, Sway or Watertrade, New Waterloo will donate $2 to $3 per drink to Port Aransas and Rockport relief efforts. I spoke to Alexis Lanman, Director of Marketing for New Waterloo about the hurricane initiative, "It was devastating to watch our neighbors and loved ones in Houston and surrounding areas lose so much from the flooding. We knew we had to do something as a company, but wanted to ensure it was both impactful and meaningful. Using our resources, we were able to create some really fun & sentimental ways to give back. The best part is that there is no current end to our fundraising efforts, we know that it's going to take a long time to rebuild and will continue to donate long into the foreseeable future."

Purchase a 'Texas Forever' or 'There's Always Mañana' keytag ($12 each) and New Waterloo will donate 100% of the proceeds to Hurricane Harvey relief organizations in the Houston area. These can be purchased in-store at the South Congress Hotel Lobby Shop. Not in the local area? You can also order them through the online store at http://shop.southcongresshotel.com/.

Courtesy of New Waterloo

Twin Liquors

Twin Liquors, a fine wine and spirits retailer in Central Texas, raised $66,000 from its flood relief campaign in support of those displaced or affected by Hurricane Harvey. Industry members such as The Wine and Spirits Guild of America and Carl Nolet Jr. of Nolet Spirits (Ketel One), made generous donations and matched $20,000 of customer donations from all 80+ Twin Liquors neighborhood locations. The company donated all funds to the American Red Cross fund, specifically allocated for Hurricane Harvey Relief. I interviewed Margaret Jabour, Vice President of Twin Liquors about the company’s passion to give back.

"Twin Liquors is one of the oldest Texas-based wine and spirits retailers. For 80 years, Twin Liquors has served Texas communities, and we wanted to do everything we could to provide relief to the storm-torn communities and families of Texas,” said Margaret Jabour. "We are dedicated to helping rebuild and support our neighbors anyway we can." 

To donate to the American Red Cross’ “Immediate Assistance Program”, visit their website or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Courtesy of Twin Liquors

XO Marshmallow

A marshmallow cafe? Sounds too good to be true! If I had my choice, I would eat s’mores for breakfast, lunch and dinner. XO Marshmallow is located in the Chicago metro area. The cafe sells irresistible marshmallow treats with innovative flavors like green tea, lavender honey, vanilla, bourbon, champagne, salted caramel and more. XO Marshmallow donated 50% of proceeds from all online orders to Hurricane Harvey relief. I spoke to the founders of XO Marshmallow on why they decided to take action and get involved, “Lindzi is originally from Texas and has family that was in the Houston and Corpus Cristi area. That close connection to the state of Texas played a major role in choosing to give back, but ultimately it's part of our company ethos. We try to find ways to give back often to organizations and causes that speak to us both as small business owners and as people. We firmly believe that companies today more than ever have a social responsibility to do more than just make money, and if we have the opportunity to do something to help and feasibly can, we do,” Lindzi Shanks and Kat Connor, XO Marshmallow co-founders Co-Founders of XO Marshmallow.

Courtesy of XO Marshmallow

In a Perfect World Foundation

Youth empowerment organization, In A Perfect World Foundation collaborated with Mama Earth and J'aime to create a new custom tote inspired by the Texas state bird and flower, the Mockingbird & Blue Bonnet. 100% of funds raised will help provide care packages to the Hurricane Harvey victims. Aside from the custom tote, In A Perfect World's youth ambassador program raised enough money to send over 170 care packages + boxes of socks, toys, clothing, books, and baby items to victims in Huston.  I chatted with the Founder of In a Perfect World, Manuela Testolin about the importance of helping those in need after the disaster, “It is important for us to donate to the hurricane crisis to help kids that so desperately need it. It also gives us an opportunity to teach other kids that it's important to give back. So, rather than write a check and hope for the best, we let our ambassadors take the lead and personally make a difference in the lives of over 170 kids and teens.”

Courtesy of In a Perfect World

Cora

After the disaster in Houston, residents are still in need of everyday supplies, including hygiene products. Cora, an organic lifestyle brand, donated 90,000 tampons to women in Houston and the surrounding area. CEO & Founder Molly Hayward explained their mission in more detail, ”Cora exists to help women manage their periods with health and dignity. Every Cora product sold represents a girl or woman in need receiving the period care she deserves. Whether a girl or woman is in need of our help due to economic hardship, poverty, or in this case a natural disaster, we are always ready and willing to help her. We were honored to be able to give 92,500 Cora tampons to women affected by Hurricane Harvey.”

Courtesy of Cora

Sky High Foundation

Local non-profits are stepping up and providing much needed assistance during this very difficult time. Sky High Foundation is a non-profit that raises funds for pediatric cancer research. Every Sept 30th they have an event called DollarDay. The non-profit asked followers on social media to donate $1 (or more) to show how even a little amount can make a big difference. This year, Sky High Founder Brittany Hebert, created a new call-to-action after she learned that many of the families with kids at Texas Children's Hospital were affected by Hurricane Harvey. She decided to take action and raise supplies and funds for those families solely. The team is gathering donations of clothes, shoes, toys, grocery store cards, and more.  

I spoke to Brittany about her passion to give back to the local families affected by the disaster, “Houston has been Sky High’s home for years. Texas Children’s Hospital, right here in our backyard, is one of Sky High’s three beneficiaries. As soon as Hurricane Harvey hit, we immediately reached out to our contact at the hospital to see how we could help. They connected with the families and we were then given a list of items needed and the idea of a drive and fundraiser felt not only right but absolutely necessary. The families we are helping are not only fighting the fight of their lives but they were devastated by the storm. Many lost personal belongings, cars and/or their entire homes. Our donations of clothes, undergarments and grocery gift cards will help the rebuilding process a little easier. At Sky High we have made it our mission to provide comfort, fund research and save lives of children battling pediatric cancer and other life-threatening conditions and this was a big part of “providing comfort” to those affected,” Founder Brittany Hebert.

Photo of Founder Brittany Herbert at the Sky High Foundation event.
Courtesy of Sky High
Photo of Founder Brittany Herbert at the Sky High Foundation event.

LIVARI X Cool Effect

With signs of climate change, it’s imperative for consumer brands to take their part in preserving the environment. During NY Fashion Week in September, I had the pleasure of seeing the LIVARI runway show. The collection was mesmerizing and I was even more surprised (and delighted) to find out the line is eco friendly. I had the pleasure of interviewing Founder Alysia Reiner (you may recognize her from one of my favorite shows, Orange is the New Black) about the line, “Before we even conceived of LIVARI, Claudine, Tabitha and I sat down to discuss what change we wanted to change in the world and in the world of fashion! LIVARI is as much a form of activism as it is art and fashion. As Claudine says, “It’s about the story, not the store.” It’s about change. I’ve worked with Cool Effect in the past and know their incredible environmental impact through carbon offsetting and I said to my partners ‘what if we could not only be environmentally friendly, ethical and zero waste, but also offset our entire carbon footprint!”

Finding eco-friendly materials is not as easy as 1-2-3. I asked Alysia how she accomplished this difficult task, “We explored and implemented a multitude of ideas to become a leader in sustainable fashion. We chose to use fabrics that many people may not have heard of like cupro, a regenerated cellulose fabric derived from cotton linter, or fish leather, a new type of leather created from the scales of fish that are used for food. Our Capsule Collection was created with the use of fabric remnants which would have otherwise ended up in landfills. Once we finished creating our collection, we amassed all of the scraps and wove them together to make a final piece. These are just some of the ways we created the first line of clothes for LIVARI and we are eager to learn about and explore other methods as the brand grows.”

I admire Alysia for spreading the word about this important cause. Alysia added, “Every time someone wears the signature Backbone T-Shirt and they receive a compliment, they can share the story of Cool Effect with that person. They can share that the art on the tee represents that women are the backbone of society and that the design was created by an incredible female artist Hodaya Louis. They can share that the tee is made by formerly incarcerated women who are being given a second chance. LIVARI is an example of how all of us can change the world with small actions and choices.” 

Photo credit: <em>Vincent Roazzi Jr. for Cool Effect</em>
Courtesy of LIVARI
Photo credit: Vincent Roazzi Jr. for Cool Effect

Project It Starts with One

Hurricane Irma left the islands bordering the Atlantic in chaos, especially on the island of St. Maarten. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mariana R. Silva, Founder of Project It Starts with One. She explained why she decided to take action and help those in need in St. Maarten. Many businesses were quick to help Mariana’s cause. She partnered with JetBlue to transport the donations/supplies to St. Maarten and Moo.com assisted her with complimentary marketing materials to spread the word.

“I have a good friend who lives in St. Maarten and I was trying, unsuccessfully, to reach her after learning about the devastation left by hurricane Irma in the island. She has a non-profit called the KaLaHa Projects Foundation (to bring awareness, prevention, and treatment for cervical cancer) when we finally connected I asked how I could help, she told me they are in desperate need of water, food and women's hygiene products, so I knew I couldn't just send a can a food, I needed to do more. The Prime Minister was made aware of my efforts and I'll be, most likely, working directly with the government office on this drive, everything donated will be shipped directly to the government building for now until we figure out other solutions,” Mariana R. Silva.

Courtesy of Project It Starts with 1

About the Author:

Jenny Miranda is the Founder & CEO of Jenny Miranda Public Relations, LLC (New York, NY). Add Jenny Miranda PR on social media for daily tips @JennyMariePR

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