Jewish World Review Sept. 2, 2005/ 28 Av, 5765

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

Katrina is No Lady but Help is on the Way | Hard to be breezy and trivial with my column this week with so much devastation down south in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We've all seen the horrible pictures on TV — the people wading through filthy water-clogged streets, the looting, the displaced people begging for help. As I write this, no one knows yet how many have died. It might easily be hundreds, the mayor was quoted as saying it might even be in the thousands. People are saying it could take many years before New Orleans will be back to almost itself again. I say "almost itself" because from what I hear, it will never be completely back to what it was before this thing hit. Can you imagine? An entire city wiped out!

We feel so helpless, those of us who are not affected. About all we individuals can do is send money to the American Red Cross or Salvation Army and pray hard for those who are most in need of assistance. Boy, just when you think nothing worse can happen … it does. But then, some good-hearted Americans come through with aid and the pure goodness of it all makes you want to cry.

Wal-Mart instantly wrote a check for a million bucks to help the folks down there. Radio stations across the country have set up collection spots for people to go to and donate money to help the victims. The New York Yankees and NFL are each donating a million. Chevron Corp. gave $5 million. State Farm Insurance donated a million, as did Pfizer. JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup each gave $3 million.

We all the time hear of the big, bad, nasty drug companies, so it is especially nice to report that most of the biggest ones came through with generous donations. Drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and & Co. prepared to send 40,000 vials of refrigerated insulin to patients in the affected areas, as well as donating at least $1 million in cash to the American Red Cross.

Another drug maker, Wyeth of Madison, N.J. pledged to send antibiotics and nonprescription pain relievers. Johnson & Johnson provided $250,000 worth of kits containing toothbrushes, soap and shampoo, and pain relievers and wound-care items. Drug maker Merch & Co. supplied antibiotics and hepatitis A vaccines that would protect those facing contaminated water. Abbott Laboratories has donated $2 million in cash and at least 12 million in nutritional and medical supplies.

More companies pitched in. Nissan contributed 50 trucks to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, over 825 cans of water was supplied by Anheuser-Busch, General Motors gave 25 cars and trucks to the Red Cross, and Kellogg's sent seven truckloads of crackers and cookies to the Red Cross as well.

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The Walt Disney Co pledged $2.5 million with $1 million going to the American Red Cross and the rest to be used for rebuilding and for volunteer centers helping the communities that were hit.

Contributions came from Home Depot and Lowe's in the form of both cash and manpower. Culligan donated five truckloads of water to residents in Alabama and Mississippi. Office Depot donated $1 million to the American Red Cross and gave the entire contains of their five New Orleans stores to New Orleans officials to use as they recover from the disaster.

Even Saudi Arabia, believe it or not, has pledged to increase its oil production to take the strain off America's reserves.

In the days ahead I'm sure we will be hearing from more and more companies and private organizations who will also pitch in to help.

People engage in so many vulgar and despicable things in our modern world. It is downright refreshing to be able to sit here and write about the wonderful, generous things that people, including big business, are doing to help those poor souls in the south who have suffered from what President Bush has called one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history. Maybe people aren't so bad after all…. Well, let me think about that and I'll get back to you later on it.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2005 Greg Crosby