There's nothing humdrum about the new partnership that the American Red Cross, HUMMER and the GM Foundation announced on Wednesday aimed at equipping local communities to be even better prepared to respond to disasters.
"We're excited about embarking on a new adventure with the GM Foundation and HUMMER," said Marsha J. Evans, president and CEO of the American Red Cross.
Through a donation from the GM Foundation, the Red Cross will receive 72 HUMMER vehicles, which will include a combination of H1, H2 and H3 models, as well as an annual financial gift of $100,000 over the next six years for a total contribution equal to $4 million.
"Their past support has been outstanding," said Evans. "And these vehicles and financial support will help make the Red Cross and local communities stronger and more ready to respond to life's emergencies."
The first communities to benefit from the in-kind portion of the gift, four 2006 HUMMER H3 vehicles, are areas of the United States that were severely impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Local chapters in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., Biloxi, Miss., and Houston, Texas, will take delivery of the vehicles this autumn to help with current hurricane relief efforts and aid in on-going programs and services.
"We laid the foundation for this partnership last fall, and are pleased to now donate vehicles and support needed for vital relief work," said Susan Docherty, HUMMER general manager. "We think HUMMERs offer the Red Cross many advantages, including cargo carrying capacity and four-wheel drive capabilities which will help them serve as reliable support vehicles, especially in natural disasters."
Capacity and reliability are critical in times of disaster when supplies - including everything from emergency food and water to personal hygiene products and comfort kits - need to reach the people affected quickly. But, there's another feature that makes these vehicles invaluable to Red Cross workers in disaster-affected areas. The donated H2 and H3 vehicles come equipped with complimentary OnStar services, including hands-free calling minutes and OnStar's "Directions and Connections" plan.
Fast, easy and accurate driving directions can be a lifeline before, during and after a disaster. Whether arising from a lack of familiarity with local geography or a need to find an alternate route when a main road has been blocked by debris, knowing the best way to get from point A to point B is a challenge Red Cross volunteers and staff - who may deploy from other parts of the country - must overcome quickly. The OnStar services included with these HUMMERs will provide drivers with directions on the spot, helping them reach the people sheltering in place and find Red Cross shelter locations, hotels, gas, supplies and other destinations efficiently and without delay.
In addition to the trucks going to the four chapters, two 2006 HUMMER H1 Alpha vehicles will go to the Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C., this fall for use in the organization's national Emergency Communication Response Vehicle (ECRV) fleet.
Taking the contribution another step further, General Motors (GM) will make sure that all the donated vehicles remain reliable and operational for Red Cross by providing Major Guard Protection extended service coverage for each vehicle at no charge.
This partnership continues GM's long history of support for the Red Cross, particularly in the area of disaster relief. Rod Gillum, GM vice president of Corporate Responsibility and Diversity and Chairman for GM Foundation said that the Red Cross and its critical work has been a major focus for GM and the GM Foundation for years.
"We have regularly contributed cash, supported blood drives in our facilities and encouraged our employees to volunteer," said Gillum. "Now the GM Foundation is pleased to fulfill the American Red Cross' request to support its relief and recovery infrastructure by donating a fleet of what are arguably the world's most capable vehicles - HUMMERs."
Financial support from the GM Foundation now will include an annual contribution of $100,000 to the organization over a six-year period. The funds will be used to strengthen local communities' abilities to be prepared and respond to disasters, such as the recent hurricanes, which led to flooding and triggered tornadoes in some areas.
At the culmination of this year's devastating hurricane season, total GM giving to Red Cross hurricane relief efforts is expected to exceed $3.5 million, including cash, employee donations and matching funds. Also, GM immediately provided more than 250 SUV's (including HUMMER vehicles), trucks and vans for use by the Red Cross and various relief agencies in their recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region.
While not first responders in the way that fire or police crews are, the Red Cross is the first on the scene of a disaster with emergency water, food and other relief supplies, meeting the urgent humanitarian needs of victims. Whether the response is to a major natural disaster or a single family fire, the Red Cross is there ready to help.
In fact, in cases where a disaster can be predicted, such as impending hurricanes, the Red Cross is there before disaster strikes, sheltering evacuees and pre-positioning personnel, supplies and vehicles for fast response in the communities once the immediate danger has passed. It is thanks to donors like GM Foundation and HUMMER as well as the general public that is so generous with its support of time, money and blood that the Red Cross is able to be there, helping its neighbors in need.
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