In August of 2016, Louisiana was hit with record flooding, in what the National Weather Service called a “once-in-1000-year event”. Nearly 150,000 homes were damaged. In the midst of disaster, Southwire’s Project GIFT stepped up to make a difference, as multiple locations participated in collection drives for victims of the flooding in Louisiana. Thanks to the efforts of employees in Bremen, El Paso, Mineral Wells, Starkville and Carrollton, as well as an incredible response from the surrounding communities, seven tractor trailers were filled with supplies and sent to aid flood victims in Baton Rouge.
On August 27, more than 20 Blackshirt volunteers arrived in Baton Rouge to distribute the collected supplies to flood victims. After two days of distribution, the Blackshirts understood how it felt to truly make a difference. Several volunteers shared their experiences below:
Strategic Buyer: “I was so proud to be a Blackshirt,” they said. “To be there and see the impact we had was life changing: the magnitude of supplies we were able to offer, the hundreds of people in need, being able to fulfill those needs and the appreciation that each person had touched my heart. I was mainly helping with the baby items, so I got to speak to the moms that were affected by the flood. There was one young lady with two small children who had lost everything. After I asked her what size diapers she needed, she broke down in tears, thanking us for all we were doing. Being a mom, I could only imagine what she was going through, and it was amazing to be part of making a difference for that young lady and so many other people.”
Safety Specialist: “It’s something that you really have to be involved in to really get the feel for when someone’s going through. You see these people in need, and you’re able to make a difference. It really makes you feel good about your company, about yourself and about your country. I’ve worn a military uniform, and it always gives me great pride. Wearing my Blackshirt on that day, I had a lot of pride, and distributing supplies to those in need really shows what a Blackshirt represents.”
Utilities Manager:“Working for a team like Southwire gave me a sense of pride. Helping so many people was inspiring. As we were working, we were all getting tired, but seeing the smiles on the faces of the hundreds of people through the pain and hardship they were facing kept us going. I am grateful to work for a company that helps so many people in different communities.”
Project GIFT Director: “We went to spread the word about disaster relief, so we drove into Baton Rouge. As we drove into a neighborhood, I was instantly taken aback by the devastation. I saw a man shoveling debris in what used to be his front yard, so I stopped and talked to him. He had lived in his house for 30 years, and right in front of him, it was destroyed. He said he awoke to the sound of water flooding into his house, and all he had time to do was save his dogs, his car and himself. We asked him how we could help, and he didn’t ask for a single thing. He simply told us to get it to those that needed it. It was amazing to me that, despite the devastation that he endured, he was so positive. He came to speak to all of our Blackshirts, and it really put into perspective what people were going through. We donated him a cooler full of bottled water and ice, but he never once asked for anything. I was touched by the strength that Bobby had, and I was proud to be a Blackshirt.”
Human Resources Executive: “Seeing, personally, the impact Southwire has on communities was inspiring. Emotionally, I don’t think I was prepared for the response we got, but it was remarkable to see the selflessness in the community. There was one women we met who hadn’t been affected by the flood, but she drove by a couple who had lost everything. They had no car, so the woman picked them up, drove them to our distribution drive and waited in line for two hours to get them some supplies. Being there to witness the strength the community had was a privilege, and after Sunday, I can honestly say I’ve earned my Blackshirt.”