Hurricane Sandy: Mutual Aid and Community…From the Heart or the Facade?

In recent years, New Jersey has gained a reputation as the “arm pit of America.” It is stereotyped as the breeding ground of reality stars, guido muscle heads, and drunk college girls. Yet in the past month, New Jersey’s citizens have proven that they deserve more credit than they have been given. Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey shore in late October and sent shock waves through the state. It is during this time of crisis that people have shown their true colors and made strides to help the tragedy stricken people of New Jersey. Yet this brings up the question of what intentions these people and companies have in helping the people of New Jersey…

There seem to be three different categories of aid that occurred after Hurricane Sandy. There is comradery, charity, and celebrity. Comradery was exhibited within the community. Local Boy Scout troops, church groups, etc. tried to assist their neighbors in whatever way they could. Common acts of comradery included sharing generators, working at food banks, collecting canned food, sharing a residence with individuals that lost their own, etc. New Jerseyans really seemed to reach beyond themselves in an effort to help their neighbors.

Restore the Shore is a new organization that has also made an effort to help the people of New Jersey. They created a line of sweaters and tee shirts and all of the proceeds go to the American Red Cross to help Hurricane Sandy Victims. Restore the Shore has made themselves known through MTV advertisements, Facebook posts, and even benefit concerts.

Although most of the groups that tried to help hurricane survivors were very helpful and did this out of the kindness of their hearts, not every group seemed to have this same motivation. Stores such as American Apparel, Loews, and H&M have all advertised sales and discounts for Hurricane Sandy victims. Also, celebrities like Lady Gaga, Snooki, and Chelsea Handler have all made donations to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. These are all big names in the world of consumerism and big business and this has left many people wondering what their motives were in helping hurricane victims. In the cynical world we live in today, one does question if celebrities and companies help natural disaster victims out of the kindness of their hearts or to create a benevolent facade to attract fans and buyers in the future.

So I ask you…

Do you feel corporations create donations/customer sales out of purely corporate social responsibility?

Do you feel that celebrities should privately donate to show the truly kind intentions of their donations?

Even if deceptive PR is used while companies or individuals help hurricane victims, is this really such a bad thing?

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2 comments

  1. bapklag

    After a natural disaster, communities know how important is it to restore order as fast as possible. From corporations down to the victims themselves, people know that helping one another out is the only way to get back to the way it was before the storm. No matter what disaster occurs, celebrities are willing to go out and donate a lot of money to help support these efforts. Even if there is a personal gain from their donations, they realize that they are making a difference for those whose lives and homes were devastated.

    Government agencies and federally funded relief efforts can only help those who apply and qualify for it. Although it’s nice to know that the city of New York is willing to automatically deposit an additional debit of 50% of every recipients regular monthly Food Stamp SNAP benefits, if you’re not already enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or living in specific zip codes you can not qualify for it. This is where corporate and celebrity charity can help those that the government can not. They help provide necessary relief for everyone that may have been affected, not just those who qualify for benefits.

    It is more important to realize that charitable agencies serve the best purpose when they can combine all of the aspects of the different type of relief you discussed. Celebrities and Benefit concerts add a monetary and nationwide support that helps expose the dire situations most people were in. Where as brand loyalty aspects of corporations like Target or Planet Fitness extending certain resources to its patrons and other members of a given community. At the community level helping each other out, telling each other about the available resources, and even buying tickets to these tribute concerts demonstrate the camaraderie aspect also.

  2. I have always felt that all of these celebrity endorsed charities are really for their public image rather than the people they are supposedly trying to help. Charity is supposed to be for helping those who need it, but somehow it is always about the celebrities. What really ruined the whole celebrity charity thing for me was after the earthquake in Haiti when Wyclef Jean set up his charity where you text in and it automatically makes a donation, then months later it was discovered that he took a nice portion out of the proceeds for himself. While it is a good thing that they bring publicity to a certain cause, which of course will bring in more money, it is still sickening how people try to ride the coat tails of a disaster for their own good.

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