Help Thy Neighbor

TMMTX, which emerged from Hurricane Harvey mostly unscathed, reaches out to those who weren’t as fortunate

September 19, 2017

Full Load -- Team member Herlinda Villarreal gathers up food donations to packaged and transported to those in need in Hurricane Harvey's wake.

Team members at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) breathed a sigh of relief the morning after Hurricane Harvey passed through San Antonio the last weekend of August.
Though they’d shut down the plant for a day as a precaution, the home of Tundra and Tacoma — as well as team members’ homes — escaped largely unscathed.
Then they turned on their TVs and saw the reporting from Houston, just 200 miles to the east.
“The coast just got slammed. It was horrifying,” says Stephanie Garcia, analyst in Government Relations and External Affairs at TMMTX. “It wasn’t long before team members started to ask: ‘Is there something we can do?’”
Plant executives responded with an emphatic “Yes!” and reached out to local representatives of the American Red Cross for guidance. Their recommendation: Work directly with the San Antonio Food Bank gathering supplies in the local area and then distributing them to those most in need in Harvey’s wake.

Harvey Lifting -- Team members John Corona (left) and Sergio Espinoza Olivares handle sacks of potatoes destined for shelters along the Gulf Coast.

TMMTX quickly mobilized on three fronts:

Donation Drive — The American Red Cross placed a high priority on five specific types of items: diapers, water, food, hygiene products and flashlights with fresh batteries. So TMMTX put out the word and its team members — as well as employees at many of the plant’s 23 onsite suppliers — immediately began to respond. One of those suppliers, which specializes in recycling, provided some of its truck and trailers to help transport the donations to the San Antonio Food Bank. Though the drive continues through the end of the month, their combined generosity has already exceeded 3,600 pounds of supplies.

Volunteer Help — Team members also gave their time. Over a three-day period in the week after the storm, nearly 100 pitched in at the food bank — helping with the sorting and packaging of the items to be sent to the hardest hit areas. In all, they donated some 240 hours. Their hands-on support is even more noteworthy when you consider that many team members have been working overtime to help churn out more Tundras and Tacomas to meet the surge in customer demand for pickup trucks.

Cash Contribution — On the last day that team members worked at the food bank, TMMTX executives surprised their counterparts at the non-profit with a $10,000 check to be used however they best saw fit. The food bank estimates it can convert each dollar into 10 pounds of food for people who, from day to day, are never quite sure where their next meal will come from.

Happy to Help -- TMMTX volunteers gather for a group photo along with the plant's other form of giving: a $10,000 donation to the San Antonio Food Bank.

In addition to the corporate response, several team members also gave up their free time and went to the hurricane zone on their own to do what they could to assist with the recovery.
“This is a great example of Toyota’s corporate culture,” says Melissa Sparks who, as an analyst in Government Relations and External Affairs at TMMTX, helped coordinate the outreach. “If there’s something team members can do to help, they are going to do it. That’s just who they are.”
By Dan Miller

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