When Melo Palacios, executive team leader at our Target store in San Antonio, Texas, saw a call for volunteers on the news, he hitched his motorboat to his truck and drove three hours to Houston. Once there, he motored through the flooded streets looking for stranded residents, eventually rescuing more than 30 people and 10 pets.
It’s one of many stories of generosity happening in Houston and the surrounding area after Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast last week, creating massive floods and leaving thousands of homes destroyed and families displaced.
As a member of the community—with dozens of Target stores, thousands of team members and countless guests in the impacted area—the disaster hit us on a very personal level. Target teams are working quickly to make sure all team members are safe, and have accommodations and other disaster assistance. Starting this weekend, team members from neighboring cities are pitching in to cover impacted teams’ shifts in Houston while they attend to their affairs. And our local store teams are taking care of each other while also volunteering to help the community recover.
After the storm hit, Target donated $500,000 to local and national disaster relief organizations, including $250,000 to the American Red Cross, $100,000 to The Salvation Army, $100,000 to Team Rubicon, and $50,000 in local store GiftCard support to local non-profits responding, to supply multiple shelter operations with baby supplies, water, batteries, personal care products, blankets and more.
As recovery efforts continue, we’re working closely with relief partners on the ground to understand what else is needed and identify other ways we can assist. On Aug. 31, we donated five trailers of food from our food distribution center in Denton, Texas, to Feeding America and The Salvation Army to support the Houston and Dallas Food Banks. On Sept. 1, we announced an additional $3 million donation to help impacted team members and continue to aid in community relief efforts. And our team members continue their efforts to help their communities. Take a look at some more stories here:
When Todd Vandel heard that most of his team (above) at our Houston Far West Target store was unable to get there after the initial downpour on Saturday, he rallied a crew of eight team members to open its doors and fill the shelves with much-needed products for the line of guests waiting outside. Todd and his team have kept the store open since, while juggling repairs and assessing damage, taking hundreds of calls, and making their local guests feel at home.
The team at our Corpus Christi store (above) went the extra mile to keep the doors open for guests stocking up on emergency supplies when many other retailers were closed, rotating shifts and offering to help each other out even as they dealt with the loss of power and water in their own homes. As one guest emphatically told the team, “When guests need things the most, we can count on Target to always be there.”
As guests came to Target for food, water and other necessities, the teams in League City, Texas, (above) were there to welcome them, even as they faced rising flood waters. When conditions made it impossible to open the store on Sunday, Store Team Leader Kyle Jones got creative, updating the crisis hotline to encourage his team to help out at neighboring stores instead. Later, when the store re-opened, the League City team—led by Danny Calderon, Sam Hanley, Christine Murray and Ginny Stout—used crowd management plans from our Black Friday events to help the long line of guests shop safely and comfortably.
On Saturday night, executive team leader Jae Duncan closed up her store in League City, Texas, and headed for home, but rising waters on the freeway blocked her route. After 48 hours of inching toward home, executive team leader Natalie Hinojosa (pictured above) came to Jae’s rescue, making her way to find Jae on the route and taking her home to care for her. Later, on a trip to a nearby Pasadena, Texas, store to stock up on supplies, Natalie saw a long line of guests waiting and immediately changed into red and khaki to help out at the registers.
As pounding rain and flash floods threatened the area on Saturday night, Guest Service Team Lead Samantha Britt and five team members made the call to shelter in place at their South Houston store. Stranded in the store for the next two days, Samantha kept up contact with her leaders, and later coordinated a boat rescue with the help of another team member to move the group to her own home until they could reach their families.
This week, a crew of seven operations managers from our distribution center in Midlothian, Texas, (above) traveled down to the heart of Houston to help unload two trailers and restock a store.
On Sept. 2, Target Volunteers and their kids (above) pitched in for a volunteer event in a heavily impacted Houston neighborhood, handing out more than 350 hamburgers and cheeseburgers, Archer Farms water, chips and homemade cookies to families as they worked on their flooded homes. The kids ran door to door to make sure no one missed out on the food!
This Houston Target team (above) rallied together with the help of partners from the Houston Police Department to coordinate and prepare a donation including diapers and baby supplies to a nearby distribution center.
On Sept. 1, Target’s District 304 team donated $2,000 of cleaning supplies to the Team Never Quit organization in partnership with war veteran Marcus Luttrell (far left, standing next to District Team Leader Jonathan Young).
Target volunteers including Andrew Dartez, Cameron Strickler (the two are pictured above), and Benjamin Drews teamed up to deliver blankets and other relief supplies to the shelter at First Methodist Church in central Houston.
Store Team Leader Jorge Alvarado and the team at our Woodlands, Texas, store (above) donated $3,000 to the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. And when they heard the organization was short-staffed, they quickly jumped in and gathered all the requested supplies—including baby food, cleaning products, sheets, socks and underwear—themselves, and had them loaded and ready when the staff arrived for pickup.
At Target, we’re committed to serving our communities all year long—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 millions of dollars every week, and our team members serve hundreds of thousands of hours as volunteers in their communities every year.
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