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Local businesses open wallets for tornado relief

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Indianapolis-area corporate and private donors have given more than $1 million to tornado-relief efforts in southern Indiana and local TV stations are taking a big part in the fundraising efforts.

Several of the stations set up phone banks following Friday’s deadly twisters and are forwarding donations to the American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis and the Salvation Army’s Indiana chapter.

As of Wednesday morning, the Red Cross estimated that it has received at least $750,000 in donations while the Salvation Army put its contributions at $427,000.

“Indiana really does a good job helping people,” said John Lyter, CEO of the local Red Cross. “It has a long tradition of doing that.”

WTHR-TV Channel 13, WISH-TV Channel 8 and WXIN-TV Channel 59 opened their phone lines to viewers and collectively raised more than $900,000, including $436,500 from WTHR. WISH and WXIN raised more than $230,000 each.

WRTV-TV Channel 6, meanwhile, helped raise $45,000 in conjunction with WIBC-FM 93.1 during a donation drive on Monument Circle.

The total figure includes a donation of $75,000 from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay who donated $50,000 through WISH and $25,000 through WTHR. Pacers Sports & Entertainment gave $100,000 to the Red Cross and staged a fundraiser at the Pacers-Atlanta Hawks game Tuesday night.

Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation also pledged $100,000 to the American Red Cross and said it will match Lilly employee contributions to relief efforts. And the Verizon Foundation said Wednesday that it would donate $50,000 to the Red Cross.

Coincidentally, WTHR had been forming an emergency-response partnership with the Red Cross, dubbed WTHR Cares, when the tornadoes struck, said Angela Cain, the station’s community affairs director.

“We started forming this about a month ago, and then Mother Nature called,” she said. “But we made it come together.”

WISH General Manager Jeff White said his station mobilized employees on Saturday morning, the day after the storms, to organize fundraising efforts.

White and fellow station leaders say their campaigns are not about who raised the most money or who became involved first.

“This is not a competition among stations, because it’s all going to a good cause,” said Lee Rosenthal, WXIN news director.

Televisions stations have an ideal platform to raise money simply by the large populations they reach. In that sense, they walk a fine line between the work they do for a community and the self-promotion that can follow, said Bruce Bryant, founder of Indianapolis-based Promotus Advertising, which often helps clients with charity-based marketing.

“When there’s such wide devastation, the question starts to become, is that opportunistic?'” Bryant said. “And I think the answer is, as long as it’s done in reasonable taste, you haven’t crossed that line. It’s good business.”

Bryant thinks the stations have acted responsibly but thought they should have tried to combine their efforts into one fundraising drive so “no one can be singled out of getting ahead of the competition at the expense of a natural disaster,” he said.

White at WISH said he realizes the potential danger of heavy promotion, but said the amount of destruction that resulted in 39 deaths puts their efforts into perspective.

“When you hear the devastating story of the lady who lost her legs to protect her children, it’s not about who collected the most,” he said. “We’re about recognizing and thanking people for what they have done.”

 

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  • good question-any answer?
    Good story but in recent "help victims" TV story, the reporter described all the "disciplines" turning out to help==doctors, health care, firement, social work agencies, animal rescue etc...BUT WITH ONE NOTICABLE PROFESSION ABSENT TOTALLY--and the comment was: "with everybody helping Henryville area, where are any pro bono lawyers?"---so perhaps Mickey M. (who is one) might take on the question because what a great opportunity for reputable pro bono team of local attorneys to go down to protect storm victims or at least to advise---so far only legal eagles landing represent the insurance/lenders--not the insured and post-disaster is a breeding ground where the helpless get plucked . Any good pro bono firm want to step up to the plate?
  • Lots of help, I hope
    There's even a "Public Media Colleagues Helping Colleagues Fund" that gets voluntary donations that's offering to help our public media colleagues who've suffered losses from the storm. My colleagues are some of the most generous folks I've known.

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  1. Aaron is my fav!

  2. Let's see... $25M construction cost, they get $7.5M back from federal taxpayers, they're exempt from business property tax and use tax so that's about $2.5M PER YEAR they don't have to pay, permitting fees are cut in half for such projects, IPL will give them $4K under an incentive program, and under IPL's VFIT they'll be selling the power to IPL at 20 cents / kwh, nearly triple what a gas plant gets, about $6M / year for the 150-acre combined farms, and all of which is passed on to IPL customers. No jobs will be created either other than an handful of installers for a few weeks. Now here's the fun part...the panels (from CHINA) only cost about $5M on Alibaba, so where's the rest of the $25M going? Are they marking up the price to drive up the federal rebate? Indy Airport Solar Partners II LLC is owned by local firms Johnson-Melloh Solutions and Telemon Corp. They'll gross $6M / year in triple-rate power revenue, get another $12M next year from taxpayers for this new farm, on top of the $12M they got from taxpayers this year for the first farm, and have only laid out about $10-12M in materials plus installation labor for both farms combined, and $500K / year in annual land lease for both farms (est.). Over 15 years, that's over $70M net profit on a $12M investment, all from our wallets. What a boondoggle. It's time to wise up and give Thorium Energy your serious consideration. See http://energyfromthorium.com to learn more.

  3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

  4. Some of the licenses that were added during Daniels' administration, such as requiring waiter/waitresses to be licensed to serve alcohol, are simply a way to generate revenue. At $35/server every 3 years, the state is generating millions of dollars on the backs of people who really need/want to work.

  5. I always giggle when I read comments from people complaining that a market is "too saturated" with one thing or another. What does that even mean? If someone is able to open and sustain a new business, whether you think there is room enough for them or not, more power to them. Personally, I love visiting as many of the new local breweries as possible. You do realize that most of these establishments include a dining component and therefore are pretty similar to restaurants, right? When was the last time I heard someone say "You know, I think we have too many locally owned restaurants"? Um, never...

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