Many people in small communities throughout the United States have been criticizing Wal-Mart lately, claiming that the huge corporation is ruining the American economy. But thanks to Wal-Mart, hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors will continue to survive, and many of those critics may have to literally eat their words.
According to The Washington Post, the retail chain has pledged $20 million to the relief effort, enough food for 100,000 meals, 1,500 truckloads of free merchandise, and jobs for all displaced employees.
Wal-Mart is not alone in the effort, however. The Red Cross website lists Nokia, Wachovia, Major League Baseball and Nissan among many other companies that have already donated millions of dollars. Wealthy individuals have also donated money. Pat Boone, the founder and CEO of BP Capitol in Dallas, alone donated $5 million to the Red Cross.
You don?t have to be wealthy to contribute, however. The level of destruction along the Gulf Coast is huge, and the cost of taking care of it is equally huge, so every little bit helps. Regular working-class people should donate if they are able. Even cash-strapped students can (and should) help out.
There are many options available. Students and faculty can make monetary donations through the Church website, or through www.redcross.org.
Unfortunately, no opportunities to donate through BYU have been set up. Some students have been trying to plan fundraising activities, but there is too much red tape. Hopefully the student body and administration will soon be able to overcome the bureaucracy and get something going. In the meantime, those who are willing to help should take advantage of the other relief organizations available. Through the aforementioned groups, those who donate can be sure that their resources will end up where they are sent.
Though there has been much death and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, there are also many opportunities for the people of the nation to become more unified. As everyone pools their resources to help those in need, the moral fiber of the nation will become stronger. The BYU community can be an important part of this rebuilding.