As flood waters rose to dangerous levels in his hometown of Baton Rouge, La., last week, Joe Truxillo, an executive team lead at the local Target store, knew he couldn’t sit idle while his neighbors were in trouble. An avid hunter and fisherman, Joe started up his fishing boat and motored through the waterlogged streets, picking up stranded residents and their pets, bringing them to shelters, and dropping off supplies to isolated areas.
"It's what we always do—we help those in need” Joe says. “I went for 48 straight hours. I wish I could've done more.”
It was just one of many heroic acts performed by brave residents of Baton Rouge and the surrounding area, after 6.9 trillion gallons of rainfall led to massive floods, leaving thousands of homes damaged and families displaced.
As a member of the community—with six Target stores and more than 1,000 team members and countless guests in the affected area—the disaster hit us on a very personal level. Target teams worked quickly to make sure all team members were safe, and had accommodations and other disaster assistance. Team members from neighboring areas pitched in to cover impacted teams’ shifts while they attended to their affairs. And our amazing local store teams have been working together to take care of each other while also volunteering their time to help the community recover.
Our teams were pitching in even before the flooding began. In the earliest days, Target teams reached out to local food banks to donate more than $100,000 of food. “It was a major group effort—once our stores lost power, it was a race against time to donate food to local food banks across South Louisiana,” says Ali Malik, district team leader, Southeast Louisiana.
Later, on Aug. 19, Target volunteers, with help from the Greater St. James Missionary Baptist Church and Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, gathered in the parking lots of our Baton Rouge and Hammond, La., stores to hand out more than 40,000 bottles of water to flood victims—many of whom lost everything in the disaster.
Our local stores also distributed thousands of dollars in Target GiftCards to local non-profits to help them cover the necessities. And last week, Target announced additional support for The Salvation Army ($100,000), the American Red Cross ($100,000 plus up to $50,000 more to match team member donations) and impacted local schools ($30,000)—bringing our total donation up to $400,000.
Team members to the rescue
As some team members in impacted areas faced nightmarish conditions, their Target families were there to help them through. When Sharon Lee, human resources team lead, got a frantic call from team members stranded at a nearby Target store, she knew she had to act fast. “There wasn’t time to wait for the emergency services dispatch. People were terrified—some couldn’t swim. So my husband and I grabbed pool floats from our garage and drove our truck through the water to the store.” After wading in through three-foot-deep water, Sharon loaded the stranded people into her truck and drove them to safety.
Meanwhile, in Hammond, La., Senior Team Leader Tracy Fritsche and her husband—both certified first responders—were stationed in a central area for several days doing rescue work when a group of her store teammates showed up at her site. They’d gathered dozens of boxes of supplies (dry goods, water and more) to distribute to the people in need at Tracy’s site.
And over the weekend, team members pitched in to help each other with personal cleanup efforts—like Stephen Kennedy, store team leader, Covington, La., who helped a teammate gut a room in her house and repair extensive water damage she’d otherwise be unable to fix.
“Our team members are the heart of our company and are always there for each other, our guests and the community,” says Laysha Ward, chief corporate social responsibility officer, Target. “We’re extremely proud of their efforts, not only as volunteers, but also in making sure our stores closest to the disaster areas are ready with needed supplies.”
These latest donations are just one example of our ongoing support. At Target, we’re committed to serving our communities all year long—a win-win situation, because when we help build strong communities, the guests and team members who live there help us build a strong business. We’re proud of our long tradition of giving 5% of our profit to communities—today, that adds up to more than $4 million every week toward things like healthy eating and active living, hunger relief, safety partnerships, and other community programming—and our team members donate hundreds of thousands of hours volunteering in their communities every year.
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