A message from IGA Chairman Mark Batenic...
Like the rampant wildfires we've seen in California and our western United States over the last few years, Australia too is seeing a dramatic increase in seasonal fires--with devastating consequences. This season's uncharacteristically widespread bushfires across Australia have claimed the lives of one billion animals and 28 people since they started in September, with an estimated 42 million acres of land burned.
The good news is, like in California this past year, we haven't lost a single IGA store to fire. The bad news is the communities we serve on both continents have been powerfully affected.
In the US, IGA retailers, team members, and wholesale partners stepped up to help the fire-affected communities by figuring out how to stay open when the power was out, continuing to deliver groceries when the roads were perilous, and supporting displaced families with donations and food. Not surprisingly, we're now seeing the same kind of heroic efforts from our IGA Australia family.
Over the last few weeks, IGA Australia distributor Metcash and its retailers have come together as a network to focus their efforts on doing what they can to help their fellow retailers and communities as they battle these horrific fires. To date, these efforts include:
- IGA Australia retailers & Metcash have activated a Rapid Response Plan, which will generate a combined donation in excess of $280,000 AU.
- Foodland IGA retailers & Metcash have contributed $90,000 AU to support those who lost their homes in South Australia prior to Christmas.
- State distribution centers have provided free pallet loads of water, as well as extraordinary deliveries by sea and air, where necessary.
- Distribution centers have assisted Foodbank with logistical support to get much-needed resources to affected areas.
- IGA Australia stores are selling $2 Bushfire tokens and are accepting donations on the IGA Australia website, with 100 percent of funds going directly to the Vinnie’s Bushfire Appeal (via St. Vincent de Paul Society).
- And as always, individual retailers are stepping up and supporting their local communities through generous acts of kindness. Over time, these heroic stories will be shared.
This kind of empowered commitment to community is one of the great things about our culture at IGA. If disaster happens in any IGA community, our retailers, team members, and wholesalers do what they always do: they jump to action to help their neighbors in any way they can, no questions asked.
Our thoughts and prayers are with our IGA family in Australia. Should you wish to help, you may make donations directly through the IGA Australia–St. Vincent de Paul Society page.