A History of Helping
02/09/2023 · Newsroom Highlight
When it comes to supporting the communities we serve, our employees care for our neighbors through food and monetary donations, countless hours of volunteering, and responding when disaster strikes. Whether it is snowstorms, hurricanes, hate crimes, or a global pandemic, we are committed to meeting the needs of our communities quickly and efficiently. Each time a tragedy strikes, our employees work closely with community organizations and law enforcement agencies to care for and support those affected in a myriad of ways.
In 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, our customers raised more than $1,000,000 for the Red Cross, while employees across the company began donating blood. Closer to Ground Zero, chefs from our New Jersey stores prepared food for relief workers. Soon after, teams of Wegmans chefs from other divisions took turns traveling to NYC to assist in the effort.
Our customers rose to the challenge again in 2005 to raise money for Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, when Hurricane Sandy hit, truckloads of food and supplies were donated to food banks in affected areas and our employees were there handing out the food and supplies to their neighbors.
Over the last year alone, our employees have responded to three fatal events and two water crises in the communities we serve. Here are just a few of their stories.
Buffalo, New York
Tops Store Shooting in Buffalo
On May 14, 2022, 10 Black people were killed, and three others wounded, when a shooter opened fired inside a Buffalo Tops grocery store in a racist attack. With the temporary closing of the store, access to groceries was limited. We joined FeedMore WNY and Buffalo Peacemakers to offer immediate and long-term support to those in need.
Shaniyah Crump, Wegmans asset protection trainer in Buffalo, was on call the day of the attack and played a critical role in our response. Due to her role in asset protection and her history of volunteering, she was asked to take the lead in coordinating Wegmans’ volunteers and addressing community need, not just on day one, but for the weeks and months to follow. She jumped at the opportunity, because for her, the attack was personal.
“As a Black woman who grew up on the east side of Buffalo and went to college down the street from that store, I know it could have been me. It could have been my family,” she said. “I felt the pain. I knew the neighborhood and needed to be there with the community.”
Shaniyah spent weeks coordinating volunteers, donations, and support at three locations near the attack site, often transporting items to those locations herself. She also spent time in the community and at the site comforting, hugging, and reassuring the people in the neighborhood. It was important to her to offer a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. She admits it took an emotional toll.
“I had to be honest with myself. It got to the point that I needed a shoulder to cry on too. I am not used to asking for help, but now I know it’s okay to not be okay,” she said. “It’s important to ask for support when you need it.”
In addition to the work Shaniyah and dozens of other employee volunteers did in the weeks following the attack, the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation donated $400,000 to the Buffalo 5/14 Survivor Fund and the Buffalo Stronger Together Fund to help support the victims, their families, and the community’s long-term needs.
In December, a blizzard hit Buffalo just two days before Christmas, making travel impossible, trapping people in their homes and cars, and closing stores across the area. By Christmas morning, after 37 hours of blizzard conditions, the city was buried in over 50 inches of snow, more than 40 people had lost their lives, and thousands were without power.
Our commitment to caring for our community was evident in the response of our employees. From stepping up pre-blizzard when stores were crowded with last-minute holiday shoppers and storm preppers, to braving the elements during the blizzard to help those in need, Wegmans employees across Buffalo and beyond responded in dozens of profound and unexpected ways:
- The food from cancelled catering orders was donated to local first responder agencies, as well as Catholic Health Hospitals and medical centers.
- Dozens of cases of baby formula were donated from the Pottsville, Pennsylvania, Distribution Center and delivered by Erie County Sheriff’s deputies after a 12-hour round trip to pick it up.
- Facebook posts connected our Transit Road store manager, who was stranded at the store, with a young woman who had been stuck in her car for more than six hours just a short distance away. Within 20 minutes of the first post, they were both safe and warm back at the store.
- The storm caused power outages and had employees snowed in, so employees came from Rochester and Jamestown, New York, and Erie, Pennsylvania, to assist as stores restocked and prepared to reopen.
This is not the first time our Buffalo stores have faced the difficulty of managing through a blizzard. In fact, 45 years earlier the blizzard of ‘77 postponed the opening of Wegmans’ first store in the Buffalo area.
In March, when severe weather caused a massive pileup near our Pottsville, Pennsylvania, distribution center, members of our asset protection team, including two who are trained EMTs, were some of the first to respond. Our distribution center employees opened their doors was open to those who were involved in the crash and needed shelter.
The Red Cross used our facility to set up warming stations and a triage area for treating minor injuries, while EMS transported more severe cases to local hospitals. Wegmans employees assisted with handing out blankets, snacks, drinks, pet food, and medical supplies to more than 75 people, and several pets, while they waited to be reunited with their families.
“We took in crash survivors from all different backgrounds. Truck drivers, families and their pets, and elderly folks were shuttled to our facility,” said Tara Biller, distribution employee representative. “I met Bill and Janet from New Hampshire. They were pulled from their crashed Subaru by our AP officers. We are so much more than a retail grocery company. We genuinely care about people, and that is why I have worked for Wegmans for over 28 years.”
The Distribution Center was one of 50 organizations recognized by local and state officials for their actions that day.
Baltimore, Maryland, and Rochester, New York
In September 2022, portions of Baltimore, Maryland, were under a boil water advisory which impacted nearly 40,000 residents due to an E. coli outbreak. Wegmans donated two truckloads of water, both gallon-sized and bottled, through the Maryland Foodbank to distribute to the affected area.
Three days before Christmas, as Rochester was preparing for severe weather, residents on the west side of the city were placed under a similar boil water advisory following a massive water main break. Wegmans donated a truckload of bottled water and two pallets of snacks to Foodlink, who then distributed them to the City of Rochester recreation centers for children and their families after the weather and water main break led to school closures.
We take pride in the relationships we have built in our communities that allow us to respond quickly to community needs during a crisis and are proud of all our employees who are committed to supporting those in need.