Hats off to Olinde's Furniture! They are part of a new “partners in preparedness” project with the American Red Cross in south Louisiana which has raised $14,000 for local disaster relief efforts – in just one portion of the project.

Tom Olinde, president of Olinde’s Furniture, which also has the Ashley Furniture franchise for south Louisiana, presented the check last week before the boards of directors for the South Louisiana Region of the Red Cross, including the Acadiana Area Chapter. But Kristin Whitty, the Louisiana Capital Area Chapter board member who helped facilitate the agreement, had a surprise for Olinde even as she waited to hear the final tally from the customer donation program. The Wilson Foundation has agreed to match his gift up to an additional $12,500, so his gift of $14,000 is really yielding $26,500 to support disaster relief in south Louisiana.

Olinde signed an agreement in late May to engage in a “partners in preparedness” project. At its center was this customer donation program, but extensive messaging also focused on hurricane preparedness.

In addition, the staff in all eight south Louisiana Ashley Furniture stores – from Lake Charles to Opelousas to Houma – wore a Red Cross button pin, to help draw attention to the offer.

More than 5,500 people have been assisted so far this year through gifts to the American Red Cross in south Louisiana.

“This gift has already been working hard,” said Bobbi Zaunbrecher, executive director. “The Red Cross fiscal year ends in just a few days, and we will have invested nearly $1 million in direct assistance to help our fire clients recover.”