Dozens of local businesses are teaming up to provide support to people affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, a powerful storm that battered the hurricane-vulnerable city and left an estimated thirty people dead.
The effort is spearheaded by Rally + Relief NC, an organization founded by Raleigh resident Jedidiah Gant last year after Hurricane Matthew slammed southeastern North Carolina. Gant, who frantically tried to reach his family in Lumberton after Matthew made landfall, was heartbroken to see the destruction the storm wrought on the town he lived in for two decades. So he banded together with his friend and Capital Club 16 chef Jake Wolf and founded Rally + Relief NC to raise funds. More than thirty other businesses joined in, and they pooled together more than $30,000 for Matthew's victims.
Gant hadn't expected to have to restart the campaign this year. In fact, a few weeks ago he was reviewing his social media accounts and deleted the "Rally + Relief" bookmark. But then Harvey happened. And he was flooded with images and news updates that reminded him of everything North Carolina went through after Matthew.
"All the situations and unexpected devastation in Houston hit me, and those emotions came back from last year," Gant says. "That was me and my family."
Gant fired up the social media account and decided to focus the organization's fundraising efforts on Houston. He tapped into his Raleigh business networks and got nearly thirty business back on board with the campaign—see the entire list at rallyandreliefnc.com—pledging to donate percentages of their proceeds to the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a tax-deductible foundation.
For maximum inclusivity, Gant lets each business choose the percentage of proceeds it will donate—"I would rather them choose the percentage than not do it," he says—and he'll collect all the checks when the campaign is over and send them directly to the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
The fundraising benefit will kick off this Saturday.
"To me, it's just about a community of businesses coming together to raise money for other people in need," Gant adds.
And after Irma's wrath last weekend, it's possible they'll be hearing from Gant again.