CHICAGO, September 9, 2011—I was one of the army of police officers and firefighters to volunteer at the remains of the World Trade Center after 9/11. I spent five days there. I could describe the massive destruction, the stench of dead bodies coming from underground, or some of the more grisly methods used to retrieve those remains.
Those sights and smells are imprinted in my memory.
But, there was something that received little attention that is more poignant. The generosity of corporate America. You know, those evil greedy profit sucking corporations we are being conditioned to hate? Those groups run by billionaires, millionaires, and CEO’s making obscene salaries. Those guys?
The reality is that they, those guys, where there. The major corporate owned hotels put us up free of charge. Volunteers had some of the best rooms and suites in New York City. Some even fed us - for free.
When I arrived at Ground Zero a warehouse-type facility was established in one of the more stable buildings. It was like a Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart on steroids. It had every conceivable product you could need and it was all free for the taking. Brand name work clothes, health, beauty, and hygiene products, OTC medications, boots, gloves, goggles, knee-pads, shirts, pants, batteries, flash lights, and packaged food.
There were several types of hardware products and hand tools along with major brand name safety products.
All of it donated. All of it free. I was riding around one night with an NYPD sergeant on an ATV. He told me that several ATVs and several different models were donated by the company for police and fire to traverse Ground Zero. They came in handy due to the tight turns and spaces.
There was so much stuff coming in that there was no room for it all. Some of the clothing was just shipped out to police or fire stations to be given to the homeless.
Major food companies provided meals. Every morning McDonald’s delivered food and coffee. For two evenings Uncle Ben’s traveling bus provided hot meals of their products.
Other major companies also provided sustenance to the workers.
This was all provided by major corporations. They opened up their warehouses and their hearts to the people who had tragic work to do. No one asked them to do it. No one demanded they share their bounty. No one told them they had to be fair, sacrifice, suffer, or share. They just did it. They provided millions of dollars worth of merchandise just because.
Though most of the merchandise was major brand names, not one of the donors or distributors was listed. There were no signs or other promotional materials. Stuff just poured in and was handed out.
The workers were very grateful. Much of it was needed. Especially OTC allergy medications, contact lens solution, hygiene products, and other day to day needs. Clothing and work boots had to be replaced too. Cases of bottled water could be found everywhere, along with sports drinks.
Corporate America shined during that tragedy. They stepped up to the plate and did what they could. I do not remember if there were editorials of gratitude written or any reportage of their largess. But there should have been.
America should be proud that their corporations shared millions of dollars of goods with the responders and volunteers. Corporations proved they are people and they care.
I, for one, am grateful. Thank you, corporate America.
Note: I contacted some of the corporate donors to get an idea of how much in tonnage or monetary value they donated. None responded in time for this article.
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