A Little Tip Can Go a Lot Farther Than You Think
By Jenny Kincaid // Roanoke Times // 01.07.05
Several Southwest Virginia businesses are doing their part for tsunami relief. Both employees and customers can help.
A dollar for someone to make your coffee. A dollar for your help.
At some Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea locations, a portion of your tip is not just going into an employee's wallet. Mill Mountain is one of several local businesses raising money for victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia, where about 160,000 people died.
Employees at some Mill Mountain locations are giving portions of their tips to organizations that are providing relief services to the torn countries.
"Isn't it the biggest natural disaster that's happened in everyone's lifetime?" asked Jennifer Phillips, an employee at the Mill Mountain in downtown Roanoke. "Nobody can say 'no' to this."
Since Monday, the downtown store has raised $250. Phillips said employees on each shift decide what portion of their tips to contribute. Some have given up to 50 percent of their tips to the cause. Phillips said they will give their funds to the American Red Cross.
Employees at Mill Mountain on Starkey Road in Roanoke County have raised about $1,300 since they began saving portions of their tips about two weeks ago. Manager Christina Lancaster said the employees divide the tips at the end of each shift.
Some shifts determine their contribution by dividing the total tips as if there were an extra employee, and that extra tip amount is donated. Other shifts contribute different amounts, Lancaster said.
Employees at the Mill Mountain on Starkey Road want to raise $1,500 by today. They've been keeping customers up-to-date by posting contribution totals on a chalkboard in the store. They plan to donate the funds to CARE, a humanitarian organization that fights poverty and is helping the tsunami victims.
Susan Gibson of Roanoke County dropped some money into the tip jar at Mill Mountain on Starkey Road on Thursday.
"I think it's a great thing they are doing," she said.
All Kroger stores locally and nationwide are taking donations for tsunami victims and giving the money to the Red Cross. Signs announcing the donation efforts are posted in different areas of the stores, including at some front doors and at customer service counters. Customers can donate money at the cash registers or at the customer service area through the end of January, said Carl York, Kroger spokesman.
Kroger, through its three foundations, also is matching funds contributed by its employees, up to $300,000.
"Our customers and associates have a long history of responding generously to help those in need," York said.
Other companies are using employee-match programs to bump up contributions to tsunami relief.
HCA, which owns several local hospitals, such as Alleghany Regional Hospital, Lewis-Gale Medical Center in Salem and Montgomery Regional Hospital, is matching employee donations on a dollar-per-dollar basis.
HCA also donated $1 million to the Red Cross.
WellPoint, the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, is providing a 50 percent match for all employee or associate contributions to four American relief organizations that are helping with the tsunami disaster. They include the United States Fund for UNICEF and AmeriCares. WellPoint also has contributed $500,000 to the cause.
Anthem employs about 900 people in Roanoke.
A home-building firm has entered the effort. The Willard Cos. at Smith Mountain Lake just began a two-week fund-raising drive to collect money for tsunami relief efforts from employees at its five subsidiaries, including Waterfront Properties and Smith Mountain Building Supply. The company has placed cannisters for donations in each office, said Chris Finley, director of marketing for The Willard Cos.
Tips for avoiding scam operations that pose as charities:
. Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion but short on what the charity will do to address the specific disaster.
. Don't give cash to the charity. Always write a check using the full name of the charity.
. Ask how much of your gift will be used for the disaster and how much will go toward administrative and fund-raising costs.Source: Better Business Bureau
© 2005 The Roanoke Times