American corporations reacted with characteristic generosity in the wake of the tragedy in New Orleans, donating hundreds of millions of dollars in cash, goods, and services.

Retail giant Wal-Mart led the way, with a $15 million cash donation, as well as a $1 million donation to the Salvation Army to help them it provide 400,000 meals a day and portable showers, and $1 million donated to the American Red Cross, to help it run shelters and provide relief. The company is also accepting donations for major relief efforts at all 3,800 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations and on its websites.

Employees affected by the disaster, meanwhile, can receive funds through the company’s Associate Disaster Relief Fund, which provides money for lodging, food, and other essential needs.

The company also sent truckloads of water and other supplies requested by emergency relief agencies to shelters in affected areas, and donated the use of 11 of our facilities to various emergency service organizations for their staging needs.

Wal-Mart also will offer free check cashing in about 126 stores in the hurricane disaster area for an initial two-week period and created an emergency contact service, allowing Wal-Mart associates and customers to post messages regarding their well-being on our websites. 

General Electric also donated $15 million, including a $5 million donation to the American Red Cross and at least $10 million in medical devices, power generation equipment, water purification and other goods and services as identified by federal relief authorities.

“We want the people of the Gulf Coast to know that the people of GE are with you,” said GE CEO and chairman Jeff Immelt. “We are dedicating every resource available to us to help alleviate the incredible human suffering and begin the recovery process. As needs emerge, we stand ready to do more. We also want our employees in the region who have lost their homes or suffered other losses to know that they are in our thoughts and prayers and that we will be with them to help in their recovery.”

Other corporate contributions included:

• Dell made a pledge of $2 million to the American Red Cross: a corporate gift of $1 million and a target of $1 million in contributions from employees. The company also announced a food drive on its U.S. campuses; an employee volunteerism effort; and donations of notebook computers and wireless networking for use at the Astrodome in Houston, which is housing refugees from the storm.
• Baxter Healthcare Corporation, through its charitable foundation, gave $1 million toward relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast of the United States and was working with the Mississippi Department of Health to coordinate the delivery to hurricane victims
• The Walt Disney Company announced a corporate contribution of $2.5 million to the relief and rebuilding efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina, with $1 million designated for rebuilding efforts targeted at children’s charities.
• The UPS Foundation is donating $1,250,000 toward relief efforts and is establishing a separate relief fund to which the company and other UPS employees will contribute to support fellow UPSers who have lost their homes and belongings.
• The Home Depot and The Home Depot Foundation today announced a direct cash donation of $1.5 million to support the relief and rebuilding efforts of areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Some of the funding will go to a “Rebuilding Fund” established by the Corporation for National Community Service and Hands On Network.
• Chevron Corporation made a commitment of $5 million to support recovery efforts in the communities affected by Hurricane Katrina: a $3 million contribution to the American Red Cross in support of disaster relief efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi and $2 million will go to local charities and relief efforts near Chevron businesses in affected states, as determined by the Company.