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California’s Businesses Show Their ‘Good Neighbor’ Spirit

From apparel brands to sports franchises to theme parks, Golden State businesses are helping those in need

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Posted 6 months agoby Ann Marie Brown

We've read plenty of sobering news in the last couple months, so it's good to remember Mr. Rogers' famous advice for hard times: "Look for the helpers." We see helpers every day in California—the heroes who staff hospitals and grocery stores, deliver packages and meals, and volunteer at food banks. The state's businesses are helping out, too. Large corporations and small startups alike are finding surprisingly creative ways to assist their communities. See how some of these altruistic companies are doing good:

Apparel and Personal Care Manufacturers

AST Sportswear has temporarily stopped producing its cozy Bayside "True American Made" t-shirts. Instead, the Orange County factory is making face masks for healthcare professionals. Workers have shipped 10,000 multi-layered cloth masks to hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement centers in California and several other states. AST's efforts join a larger push by fashion industry leaders, including Gap Inc. of San Francisco and Los Angeles–based apparel retailer Lucky Brand, to mobilize their manufacturing capacities to sew masks, gowns, and scrubs for medical workers. Gap Inc., which owns Banana Republic, Gap, Athleta, Old Navy, and Hill City, has also donated $1 million to various nonprofits to support families in need during the crisis.

In Santa Barbara, Deckers Brands, which owns Hoka One OneTevaUGG, and more, has focused their efforts close to home. It has established the Santa Barbara Better Together Fund to help provide economic relief to small businesses and the Santa Barbara community.

The Honest Company in Los Angeles has committed to donating 3 million diapers, 30,000 packs of wipes, and 20,000 personal care products to Baby2Baby, a nonprofit that provides children with diapers, clothing, and basic essentials. Actress Jessica Alba, cofounder of The Honest Company and mother of three, says, "Families that are living in poverty right now and also families who are out of work have to choose between diapers and a meal, and they shouldn't have to." Diapers and supplies are distributed through family-resource centers, homeless shelters, health clinics, and head-start centers.

Sports Franchises and Theme Parks

California theme parks and sports teams have also joined in the good-neighbor effort. When Disneyland Resort closed on March 16, the resort donated excess inventory of dairy, fruit, vegetables, packaged goods, and banquet meals to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. In Valencia, Six Flags Magic Mountain donated 800 pounds of fresh produce to nonprofit food bank Santa Clarita Grocery. In the Bay Area, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is holding blood drives in tandem with Vitalant blood centers, and they've donated more than 400 rain ponchos to frontline medical professionals at John Muir Health.

Since the Anaheim Ducks hockey team isn't using its practice rink at Great Park Ice right now, the team converted it into a storage facility for Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. The Ducks play regular season games at Anaheim's currently closed Honda Center, where the parking lot has been converted into a temporary wedding venue. The team donated the space to Orange County clerk-recorder Hugh Nguyen to perform civil marriage ceremonies until the county courthouse reopens.

Northern California's NHL team, the San Jose Sharks, partnered with SAP Center to donate $300,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley. The NBA’s Sacramento Kings offered up its former venue, Sleep Train Arena, as a 400-bed temporary emergency hospital for coronavirus and trauma-care patients. The Kings also donated $250,000 to various organizations providing food and essentials to the community.

 

 

Food Producers

Emeryville-based Clif Bar has delivered more than three million Clif, Luna, and Clif Kid Bars to food banks, first responders, and nonprofit partners across North America and Europe. It has pledged to deliver another three million bars to frontline healthcare workers.

The Martella family, owners of The Nutty Gourmet in Hughson, has given away 6,700 jars of walnut butter, pistachio butter, and pecan butter to UC Davis' Medical Center staff and Dameron Hospital in Stockton. The family has been growing walnuts in the Central Valley for four generations.

A few miles south in Newman, Stewart & Jasper Orchards has donated 2,000 pounds of roasted almonds to local police, fire, and hospital workers. The company is also selling "shelter-in-place" food care packages online.

Small Businesses

Sole proprietors and mom-and-pop enterprises are finding creative ways to help out, too. Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, Elk Grove startup RAH3D used 3D printers to create custom anime figures and lithophane art. Now the one-man company is making plastic face-shields for medical workers. Owner Rich Parr has already sent 3,200 shields to hospitals, and he plans to ship 1,800 more.

In Shingle Springs, contractor Jack Borba of Straight Line Construction has partnered with other local businesses to give away $125,000 in residential repairs and upgrades—roofs, gutters, decks, siding, and windows—to essential workers and first responders. His company's "Heroes Home Improvement Giveaway" will continue through May 26.

And in Los Angeles, pet rescue advocate Rocky Kanaka wants to ensure that all canines are cared for. He's delivering free dog food to pet owners in need from The Dog Bakery at the Original Farmers Market.

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