COVID-19 Response: North Texas Companies Make Donations, Launch New Programs, and Support First Responders

See how Dallas-Fort Worth-headquartered companies—Greyhound, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Hari Mari, Dickey’s, MyndVR, and more—are helping local communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s been no shortage of social good in North Texas during the COVID-19 global healthcare crisis.

We’ve seen a number of corporations, startups, organizations, and nonprofits step up to help those on the front line fighting the virus and those hit hardest from the effects of the pandemic. From making masks to developing new innovations to launching never-been-done-before grants, everyone seems to be doing their part.

Here’s a roundup of some recent charitable moves being made. And if you know of one that needs to be added to the list, let us know.

You can find more dollars being donated to good during the pandemic here.

Greyhound launches ‘Rides for Responders’

Dallas-headquartered Greyhound, one of the largest providers of intercity bus transportation, has decided to stay in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also launched ‘Rides for Responders,’ a program that gives free travel to medical personnel and first responders.

Greyhound said it’s the only remaining bus network in the U.S. that’s still serving rural and urban communities, although routes have been reduced. Greyhound has also taken measures to ensure the safety of drivers and riders.

‘Rides for Responders’ is meant for those needing travel during the coronavirus pandemic. That includes anyone volunteering on the front lines: doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, medical technicians, firefighters, members of law enforcement, and morticians.

Two free one-way tickets are provided after those in need follow the instructions on Greyhound’s website.

“These frontline heroes are putting their lives at risk to provide support and expertise not only in their communities, but they are also volunteering to travel across the country to help communities being hit hardest during the pandemic,” Greyhound Lines COO Rob Friedman said in a statement. “We are so thankful for their sacrifices and we want to be able to help in whatever way we can.”

The Dallas Foundation awards more than $2M to local nonprofits

The Dallas Foundation has announced a two-fold effort to support those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It awarded $1.2 million in funding to 26 area nonprofit organizations and mobilized an additional $1 million following that.

To allow maximum flexibility for recipients to react to coronavirus, all grants are being awarded without restriction.

“The extraordinary situation we find ourselves in, and the long-term implications that will result, will require our collective creativity, generosity and collaboration,” Dallas Foundation President and CEO Matthew Randazzo said in a statement. “The Dallas Foundation is here to work in partnership with and facilitate the generosity of our donors and to support our community through this crisis.”

The foundation has also established The Fund for COVID-19 Relief to raise money for the following: the burden being placed on the public healthcare system; supporting the basic needs of low-income individuals and families; providing childcare assistance for low- income families; addressing mental health needs and concerns; or supporting and sustaining nonprofit operations and capacity-building needs during this time of disruption.

Local Dallas philanthropists the O’Donnell Foundation, the Beck Family Office, and The Rees-Jones Foundation kickstarted the contributions with $100,000 each.

Communities Foundation receives $1M from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) will support stateside COVID-19 relief efforts with a $1 million donation through its newly created Collaborative Grant Fund, the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) announced.

The COVID-19 Collaborative Grant Fund was established by BCBSTX to help nonprofits across the state provide critical services related to the pandemic. The donation grant to CFT will support child care for first responders and healthcare professionals, personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders, and services for senior adults, such as meal and grocery delivery, the organization said in a statement.

CFT, which is the largest community foundation in Texas, shares BCBSTX’s goal of investing in healthier communities and improving the health of Texans, Monica Egert Smith, Chief Relationship Officer at Communities Foundation of Texas, said.

“This $1 million investment will help address some of Texas’ most urgent needs related to COVID-19,” Egert Smith said.

Read more about the donation here.

Hari Mari donates 400 pairs of flip flops to first responders

Dallas footwear brand Hari Mari, known for combining color and comfort, is donating 400 pairs of sandals to hospitals in its home state in honor of those fighting on the front lines against COVID-19.

Dallas’ UT Southwestern Medical Center and Houston’s TIRR Memorial Hermann Center are the two recipients of the shoes. Hari Mari said they came to that decision because they were in cities with the largest number of reported coronavirus cases in Texas.

“Giving back is a core part of Hari Mari’s mission, so partnering with these incredible hospitals in this time of need just seemed organic for us,” Flops Fighting Cancer Director Hannah Sumers said in a statement. “We’re more grateful than ever for each person working to keep our country moving forward during these times of uncertainty.”

Also in response to the global pandemic, Hari Mari has launched ‘Nominate a Nurse,’ a program intended to “spread the wealth” and send free pairs of flip flops to healthcare workers across the U.S.

Kimberly-Clark Foundation and the Falk Family donate $1M to United Way COVID-19 Fund

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund started out with $1.2 million in seed funding commitments. With the donation from the Kimberly-Clark Foundation and the Falk family, the fund has received a total of $6.3 million in less than a month.

The donation aligns with the Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark Foundation’s mission of charitable giving and its focus on social and community investments. Tom and Karen Falk have ties to both organizations—Tom was previously the foundation’s executive chairman and both are serving as the 2019-2020 campaign chairs for United Way.

“We’re in this together,” Tom Falk said in a statement. “United Way is a powerful force in our community, and this crisis can be a defining moment of solidarity.”

The Falks and Kimberly-Clark each donated $500,000 to the fund. The donation was made specifically to address long-term challenges caused by the pandemic, especially those affecting education, income, and health outcomes in North Texas. 

Read more about the donation here.

MyndVR offers free VR Headsets to care communities

The Dallas-based leader in VR solutions for senior living communities, MyndVR, donated virtual reality headsets to 10 care communities through a partnership with Pico Interactive, a creator of VR and AR applications, and Littlstar, a content network that delivers 360-degree video and immersive experiences. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has caused multiple facilities to enact shelter-in-place orders, many seniors are living in social isolation from friends and family. The National Academies of Sciences reports that this can often be associated with an increased risk of premature mortality.

MyndVR wanted to help combat these statistics and improve the lives of seniors facing loneliness during these everchanging times.

In the coming weeks, it will select 40 more communities to donate headsets.

Belluscura donates masks to its community

A respiratory-focused startup in Plano is donating masks to a variety of local organizations close to home.

Belluscura told Dallas Innovates it has delivered $2,500 worth of medical masks to a north Dallas church, the Plano police department, the Dallas Pulmonary Fibrosis Society, and several adults with underlying medical conditions who might be at higher risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been working seven days a week trying to complete the development of our oxygen product, and while making masks for the safety of our employees, we decided to help some of the people most at risk from COVID-19,”  said Bob Rauker, Belluscura CEO. “We are helping out as best we can and hoping other companies will do the same.”

Belluscura is currently working on oxygen enrichment technology for treating patients with lung disease. Last year, the startup raised $2.7 million in a funding round to go toward completing regulatory clearance and launching its X-PLOR portable oxygen concentrator.

Q Car Wash is supporting local with free car washes at all locations

Euless-based Q Car Wash is providing free car washes at all five locations to any customer that shows a take-out bag or receipt from a local restaurant.

The deal is going on from April 27-30 in honor of “Support Local Business Week” benefitting the Tarrant Area Food Bank. In addition to the free washes, the company is donating $3 cash to the food bank for every car that comes through during the same dates.

The goal is to give more than $20,000 by the end of the week, which equates to 100,000 meals to local families.

“As local businesses, organizations, and even entire industries across the region suffer dramatic closures and losses because of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for our local community to band together to lend a helping hand to those in need during this great time of uncertainty,” Viran Nana, owner and CEO of Q Car Wash, said in a statement. “Providing free car washes, encouraging customers to support local restaurants, and donating cash to our local food bank will certainly not solve the larger issue at hand, but it will hopefully inspire others to support local business and do what they can to give back to the community.”

Dickey’s celebrates local first responders with free barbecue

Dallas’ staple barbecue joint is doing its part to help first responders.

On Friday, April 24, the Dickey Foundation is partnering with the original Dickey’s Barbecue Pit at 4610 N. Central Expy. Together, the pair is giving away free pulled pork sandwiches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to any first responder—police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, healthcare workers—if they show up in uniform or present a valid ID.

Dickey’s said it’s their way of saying “thank you” to those fighting the virus firsthand. Also on April 24, the same restaurant is donating 10 percent of proceeds from any wings and ribs sold to its First Responder Relief Pack program, which gives free sandwiches to front line personnel.

Huggies donates 5 million diapers to the National Diaper Bank Network

Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies brand is giving away 5 million diapers to the National Diaper Bank Network in support of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

One in three families in the U.S. typically struggle to buy diapers, and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, this has only worsened. Irving-based Huggies wanted to do something about this.

The diapers Huggies is donating to the NDBN fills twenty 18-wheeler trucks—that meets a pretty big demand. Huggies said this is its largest donation in history.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionally impacting children and families who lack access to clean diapers and other basic necessities. Hoarding, loss of jobs, and shelter in place orders have forced more families to turn to nonprofit diaper banks, depleting available supplies,” Joanne Goldblum, CEO of the NBDN, said in a statement. “Local diaper banks need immediate help.”

On a monthly basis, NDBN typically serves around 200,000 children from its 200 diapers banks in the U.S.

Match gives the Dinner Bell Foundation $30K to feed COVID-19 first responders

Online dating pioneer Match made a $30,000 donation in total to the ​Dinner Bell Foundation, a nonprofit created by the barbecue connoisseurs at Pecan Lodge. 

Match is starting with a $15,000 donation, and for every additional dollar given, will match it up to $15,000. That equates to more than 5,000 free meals. The Dinner Bell Foundation will use the funds to connect restaurants with healthcare workers and first responders.

Justin and Diane Fourton, owners of the Deep Ellum staple, launched the Foundation last month in response to the coronavirus crisis. The organization is two-fold: It helps local restaurants stay open with supplemental bridge funding, while providing meals to those directly fighting COVID-19.

Read more about the foundation here.

Innovations in Nutrition + Wellness donates a million hand sanitizer packets 

Dallas-based INW, Innovations in Nutrition + Wellness, is adjusting its local manufacturing operations to start producing single-use hand sanitizer.

The packets—more than 600,000 of them—will then be donated to the communities where INW operates in Texas, Arizona, and California.

The hand sanitizer is mainly designated for first responders, charities, and local employees. INW Chief Executive Gary Giles said he and his team are proud to manufacture a key product in a safe delivery form.

“As hand sanitizer remains a top need, the associates at INW, and our shareholders’ charitable arm, The Rosewood Foundation, stand with our first responders and front-line workers,” he said.

INW is one of the largest U.S. research, development, and manufacturing companies in the health and wellness space. Also during COVID-19, INW decided to give all hourly associates a $3.00 per hour pay increase as part of its “Unity Pay” initiative.

Rangers pitcher raises $1 million to feed kids impacted by COVID-19

Kyle Gibson, a pitcher who signed to the Rangers last year, raised more than $900,000 through the foundation he works with, Big League Impact.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the money will go to helping feed school children impacted by the pandemic. 50 players from all MLB teams contributed, so the funds will be designated between the teams’ cities.

The drive came together in a month, according to the DMN, and was pushed up by Big League Impact because of the pandemic. It was originally schedule for this fall.

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