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Southwest Airlines: Giving in a Time of Crisis

Adventurer C

Southwest Airlines relies on a dedicated group of local Employees in every city we serve who evaluate and respond to each request for a charitable donation that comes from the community. These “Local Giving Boards” allow local Employees to decide how Southwest can be the hometown carrier when it comes to charitable giving in their communities.  Southwest Airlines focuses our resources primarily on five areas of charitable giving: the Military and it Families, Families Facing Serious Illness, Youth Leadership and Community Involvement, the Environment, and Disaster Preparedness and Response. To celebrate the season of giving, this week we’ll highlight some of our memorable stories from 2010 in each one of these categories.

Disaster Preparedness and Response
For Southwest Airlines, a charitable focus on Disaster Preparedness and Response is how we plan for the future and how we address crisis as they occur. In 2010, we stretched, flexed, and strengthened our Disaster Preparedness and Response “muscles.”  Each major disaster taught us valuable lessons.

Top Lessons Learned in 2010

1. It doesn’t always matter how it started.

We watched the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill closely and developed a response task force to keep a constant eye on the effects of the oil spill. No matter how it started, when it comes to disasters, our resources will always be devoted to supporting and protecting our Employees and our communities. We developed a cause-marketing campaign to engage our Customers in the response efforts as well. Southwest’s pledge to donate $1 for every EarlyBird Check-In™ reservation made between September 21 and October 4 resulted in a $100,000 donation to the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

2. It doesn’t always matter where we fly.

Southwest provided domestic travel for dozens of medical professionals to meet international flights to Haiti. We reached out to our Red Cross contacts and learned that their biggest need was cash. We donated $25,000 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund. This disaster taught us that no matter where we fly, our Customers and our Employees look to us to address needs on a global level. Southwest’s Community Relations and Giving Senior Manager said it best: “There are no borders or boundaries when it comes to our common humanity and our need to take care of one another.”

3. It doesn’t always mean cash.

We witnessed history in the making in May as flash floods pillaged the streets and homes of the Country Music Capital of the world, Nashville. By the request of the American Red Cross, Southwest delivered 24,000 cans of water to the Red Cross Chapter in Lebanon, Tenn. Our distributor, Bunzl, also contributed cleaning supplies to the donation. When the most immediate need was cash, Southwest donated $10,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Our Internal Customer Care Team responded promptly to immediate Employee needs.

4. It doesn’t always happen overnight.
In 2010, Southwest became the first corporate sponsor of The Mass Care Task Force. The Mass Care Task Force (MCTF) is made up of four organizations, each dedicated to disaster preparedness in the Dallas area: The American Red Cross Dallas Area Chapter, North Texas Food Bank, Salvation Army, and the Volunteer Center of North Texas.  Southwest is contributing $345,000 over a five-year period and is the first corporate sponsor of the MCTF. By participating in this first-of-its-kind collaboration, Southwest hopes to support the MCTF’s goal of creating a model that can be used across the country to better prepare us all for the inevitable catastrophic event.
For more information on Southwest’s Charitable Giving, visit


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