From Napa Valley Register: Napa businesses open their pocketbooks to provide Hurricane Harvey aid

September 7, 2017, Jennifer Huffman

Napa’s businesses may be about 1,900 miles from Houston, but many are touched by the plight of Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

A number of Napa area wineries and other companies have collected donations or made contributions – both financially and otherwise – for the hard-hit state.

Downtown Napa business owner Sean Dougherty of Sidestreet Cigar said his entire family lives in the Houston area.

“It’s hit home for me,” Dougherty said of the hurricane.

“Everybody is alive, which is good,” he said, but the dwelling of at least one member of his family was flooded.

To raise money for relief efforts, Dougherty donated 100 percent of his sales over Labor Day weekend for Hurricane Harvey relief. “It was a no-brainer for me,” he said.

He’s hoping to donate “a few thousand” dollars or more to two different efforts — the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation and the JJ Watt Foundation. Both foundations were created by professional athletes in Texas.

Now that both Houston airports are back open, Dougherty left Napa on Wednesday to visit his hometown. “I’ve got to get back down there and see things for myself.”

Dougherty said regardless of what he can do when he gets to Houston, “I think moral support is the biggest thing at all. When I see my hometown under water, it takes something out of you.”

On Tuesday night, Stephanie Sheehan and her husband, Trevor Sheehan, of the Corner Napa restaurant in downtown Napa, hosted a fundraiser called “Tuesday for Texas.” During the dinner service, they pledged to match every dollar spent in the restaurant for relief efforts. In total, they plan to donate more than $6,000 to the JJ Watt Foundation, she said.

The couple has many friends in Houston, Stephanie Sheehan said. “We have a strong connection to Texas.”

Some of their friends were flooded out of their homes and lost everything, she said. “It was shocking. They were not anticipating the flooding where it ended up.”

The couple plans to eventually travel to Houston to help affected friends and volunteer with other clean-up efforts. “You kind of feel helpless in California but we’re trying to do whatever we can,” she said.

Mike Glavin of Top It Off Bottling in Napa said he called the Houston Food Bank to find out how his company could help. Glavin once briefly lived in Houston. But other than that has no other connection to the state.

Glavin said his 35 employees agreed to contribute a portion of the funds from their profit-sharing plan to the food bank.

“We’re very fortunate as a company, the employees work hard and we want to give back,” said Glavin.

Glavin said the company will donate $20,000. “It wasn’t a huge amount, but enough to help,” he said.

Stewart Cellars of Yountville is collecting diapers and wipes to donate to the Texas Diaper Bank. Caroline Stewart Guthrie said she and her brother, James Stewart, are from Houston.

“I’m a mother of three small children, two of which are still in diapers,” she said. In a disaster, diapers and wipes are always needed.

Many moms have leftover diapers after their babies grow from one size to another. Those can be bundled up and shipped to the Texas Diaper Bank, she said.

“In California, we’re not exactly geographically close and we can’t go help physically but we can definitely send supplies,” she said.

Stewart Guthrie said she’s already collected 2,000 diapers and 40 packs of wipes and mailed the supplies to the Diaper Bank.

“I just want to do my part,” she said. “We are all blessed to have so much, so when something catastrophic like this happens the least we can do is figure out a way to help.”

Even if some of the diapers don’t go to Harvey victims, “No matter, what I’m confident we’e helping somebody, which is really the goal here.”

Others who wish to donate can drop off diapers at Stewart Cellars, 6752 Washington St., open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Stephanie Honig of Honig Vineyard & Winery in Rutherford said that the business agreed to donate 50 percent of all online sales from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5 to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. That adds up to about $10,000, she said. The donation will be sent to the JJ Watt Foundation, she said.

“We have a lot of supporters and friends in Texas but it’s really about helping communities and giving back,” said Honig.

“Any of us would want people to lend a helping hand. We do what we hope others would do for us if we were in that situation.”

“I don’t know how much $10K will help but if everyone does, it will make some impact,” said Honig.

Naomi Chamblin, owner of Bookmine in Napa, said that she and other merchants in the Oxbow Public Market agreed to donate a percentage of their sales from this past Saturday to hurricane relief efforts.

“I was happy to do that,” said Chamblin.

While the hot weather put a damper on the number of shoppers that day, in the end, Chamblin was able to raise $300, she said. That money, and funds raised by the other Oxbow businesses, will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation to be distributed to the Houston Community Foundation, she said.

After the city’s 2014 earthquake, “I feel like Napans more than probably most cities really get how out of control you feel” after such a disaster. Napans have a perspective of how long the recovery process is,” she said.

Chamblin said she grew up in Florida where hurricanes are a constant threat, she said. “I know how scary hurricanes can be.”

Napa-based businesses aren’t the only companies making contributions.

According to a news release, Kaiser Permanente donated $1 million to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Half of the donation will go to the American Red Cross for immediate needs in affected areas, such as medical care, food, shelter and clothing. The other half will go to Mental Health America of Greater Houston to provide mental health and emotional support for survivors, first responders and others affected by the storm.

Lucky Supermarkets are also collecting donations to be distributed to the Red Cross.

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