As the pace of donations to help victims of the South Asia tsunami continues, several of the Valley’s largest companies are leading the way locally with six-figure giving. Amgen, the biotech titan based in Thousand Oaks, established its Tsunami Relief Program, where staff donations and company contributions will be distributed to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Amgen will also match employee contributions for at lyeast six months. The company has set up an internal Web site for employees to contribute to. The Walt Disney Company also set up a fund for the Red Cross, and has started donations with an initial contribution of $1 million, which employees will also be able to contribute to. WellPoint’s company foundations are participating in tsunami relief by setting up a fund which will be divided equally among four organizations during January. WellPoint provided an initial contribution of $500,000, and will provide a 50 percent match for all associate contributions made during January. Contributions are going to the United States Fund for UNICEF and AmeriCares, Direct Relief International and the International Rescue Committee. Brad Kieffer, spokesman for Health Net, said that the company is planning to make a donation sometime soon. In the meantime, the company is identifying relief organizations for employees wondering where to send donations. Kieffer said that a lot of the company’s associates are circulating e-mails to pull donations together. Maureen Rich, spokeswoman for 21st Century Insurance, said that most organizations are telling companies that cash is the most helpful donation at this point. A lack of runway space in South Asia means that food may spoil before it can do any good. Rich said that the Red Cross has reported that sometime in the future it may be possible to “adopt a neighborhood” or donate tangible goods more effectively. 21st Century made a $25,000 donation to the Red Cross. When the tsunami first hit South Asia and initial casualty reports came in, the American Red Cross announced they’d need about $5.5 million dollars to aid in relief efforts, according to H.T. Linke, spokesman for the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles. As the death toll mounted, going from just over 10,000 to over 140,000 confirmed dead, the Red Cross revised its estimates, saying it would need to raise $400 million to provide emergency relief and complete humanitarian aid projects over the next several years. Companies and individuals have been ready with their checkbooks, Linke said. “I think once it became clear what the magnitude of the disaster was, I don’t think anybody was surprised, the donations picked up like crazy,” he said. Linke said the Red Cross has received pledges of over $150 million so far. Wells Fargo, which is headquartered in San Francisco, but has offices in the Valley, pledged $100,000 to the Red Cross, and initially planned to match employee contributions to relief agencies up to $250,000. However, employee donations to three different relief agencies quickly topped that limit, prompting Wells Fargo to raise its matching limit to $500,000.
Valley Companies Join in Efforts for Tsunami Victims