The men and women of the American Red Cross are true American heroes; they are among the first to arrive at the scene of a disaster and administer aid to all who need it. Therefore, it’s a little humbling to be called a hero by the American Red Cross.
Harland has a long-standing relationship with the American Red Cross. Since late 2001, we have contributed more than $1 million to the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief Fund through the sale of the Spirit of America checks and related products, and Harland locations across the country routinely conduct blood drives that help save lives in our local communities. While deeply appreciative of these efforts, the American Red Cross recently recognized Harland with its Good Neighbor Award for our help with one particular situation: responding to Hurricane Katrina.
Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, the Atlanta chapter of the American Red Cross knew it was going to not only need hundreds of volunteers to serve thousands of evacuees, but that it faced a unique and very practical problem: how to distribute millions of dollars in emergency funds through a system that never anticipated this scale. The usual method of distributing gift cards was exhausted almost instantly.
The American Red Cross turned to Wachovia Bank for a solution. Wachovia staff worked nights and weekends setting up special accounts, keeping branches open beyond regular working hours, providing bus transportation and hiring extra security. With millions in emergency money in the bank, the challenge was how to give evacuees access to the funds.
At Harland, we often receive rush orders, but we cannot remember a Sunday rush order that required a 17-hour turnaround for 40,000 checks! That is the order that Harland representative Tom Reim received from his contact at Wachovia. Reim immediately gathered Harland’s Wachovia account team and that started a chain of events that, even though we know it actually happened, still seems unbelievable today. Wade Stubbs, key account executive, quickly phoned Gary Gupton, who in turn called in a special team that worked through Sunday night and early Monday morning to enter and print the check order. Ellen Bowers, national account manager, maintained constant contact between Wachovia and Harland overnight and into the early morning hours to ensure the order was properly produced. Paul Doize, operations manufacturing manager at the Greensboro facility, delivered the checks to Charlotte, where he met Reim. Reim then transported the checks to Atlanta, just in time to distribute them Monday afternoon. With these checks, evacuees obtained access to $9.2 million in financial assistance.
According to the Harland team, which won the 2005 Harland Pillar Award for Best People for its efforts, there was never a question that the order would be filled. As one person with the American Red Cross put it: "You guys came through for us big time!" How could we not? The American Red Cross comes through for all of us, all the time…big time!