Once again, marketers rush to provide comfort

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Marketers across the country pledged everything from Hotwheels to Crestor, Titan pickups, Hummers and V-8, to bring relief to those harmed by Hurricane Katrina.

Hundreds of press releases announcing cash donations to aid organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others hit the wires last week. The National Football League donated $1 million. Omnicom donated $3 million. Pharmaceutical companies from Pfizer to Abbott donated millions.

Other marketers lent basics like clothing, food and personal-care products. Payless ShoeSource donated gift cards good for shoes, construction boots and socks to the American Red Cross. Abbott offered $2 million in nutritional and medical products; Kellogg Co. sent seven truckloads of Nutri-Grain Bars, Keebler crackers and cookies for distribution by Second Harvest; Campbell Soup gave condensed soup, V8 beverages and Pepperidge Farm brands.

Kimberly Clark proffered $350,000 in donations, Huggies diapers and baby wipes, Pull-Ups training pants, Scott bathroom tissue and towels; Unilever sent 100,000 bars of soap, 120,000 jars of peanut butter, 470,000 bottles of shampoo. Wal-Mart committed $15 million to relief efforts Sept. 2 and pledged to create in afflicted areas mini-stores where clothing, diapers toothbrushes and other items will be given gratis to victims.

By the middle of last week many of the biggest portals and e-commerce sites had posted buttons front and center on their home pages about how to donate to relief efforts. As of Sept. 2 Yahoo had generated $37 million in donations and Amazon had raised $3.5 million for the Red Cross.

Still others offered support and logistics. Half of UPS's $1 million donation is in services such as shipment of medical and health-related items. Continental Airlines will put 1 million OnePass miles into mileage-donation accounts to meet travel needs of those working on relief efforts. Thousands of Home Depot's associates are being transported and housed by the Atlanta-based company to the Gulf-states region to help stores and communities affected by the hurricane. General Motors Corp. and Nissan, both of which have plants in regions hit by Katrina, donated 150 and 50 vehicles respectively to relief groups.

Mattel recognized that while food and water are important, toys can ease the suffering, too. The company sent several thousand Hot Wheels and Barbies.

contributing: jean halliday, kris oser, rich thomaselli, ira teinowitz

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