A group of do-gooders have come up with a rather ingenious way to get the victims of Hurricane Sandy the supplies they need to help rebuild their communities after last week’s freakish “Frankenstorm” destroyed large sections of Long Island, Staten Island, and Queens: an Amazon wedding registry for hurricane victims.
So far, the group behind the registry estimates they’ve gathered roughly $75,000 in supplies — things like sleeping bags, demolition equipment, etc. — and they’ve done so with precisely zero help from Amazon.
Organizers say Amazon’s shipping costs — which in some cases are hundreds of dollars — are dissuading people from donating supplies. It would be helpful, they say, if the retail giant would waive shipping fees for people donating to the relief effort. Amazon, however, has declined.
The way the registry works is like this: Organizers figure out what people on the ground in disaster zones actually need. They then put the supplies on the Amazon wedding registry, where other do-gooders across the world can buy the items for the victims.
The supplies are then delivered to a church in Brooklyn, where organizers and volunteers distribute them to the people who need them.
It’s a pretty clever way to gather supplies — rather than just blindly donating what you think people need, the registry tells you what they actually need.
For example, right now — following the several inches of freezing, white bullshit that covered the tristate area last night — hurricane victims need to keep warm. So, organizers put things like thermal underwear and hand-warmers on the registry.
Hand-warmers are things your typical do-gooder wouldn’t think to donate on their own. But registry organizers are on the ground to figure out what victims really need, which is what makes disaster registries such a good idea.
You’d think a company like Amazon would want to do everything it can to help out — for the good PR, if nothing else. Nope.
Amazon’s decision to not lend a hand has created a stir on Twitter, where people are expressing their disgust over the company’s decision to not waive shipping costs for items donated to the relief effort. In fact, it’s led to UPS offering to help out — and steal any good ink on which Amazon could have capitalized . . . but didn’t.
We reached out to Amazon’s PR flack (twice) for an explanation of the retailer’s decision to not waive shipping fees for donated items. We’re yet to hear back.
If you would also like to know why Amazon won’t waive shipping fees, call 206-266-7180, or email the company’s PR department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 8, 2012