On a gusty afternoon, two days after Labor Day, a large truck wrapped in the Coca-Cola logo pulled into the Houston Food Bank, the largest in the United States, with hundreds of cases of DASANI water.
“Pull in there,” a volunteer from the facility yelled over the cacophony of sounds from large semi-trucks driving in and out.
Timmy Hudson, an area truck driver for Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, parks the rig in front of the facility and jumps out of the truck. He them proceeds to open the gate to display more than 700 cases of DASANI.
“I’ve seen so much devastation,” laments Hudson, “and it feels good to help.”
Hudson is one of more than 2,000 Coca-Cola employees in the area affected by Hurricane Harvey. He’s driven through the worst parts of the state and his eyes glaze over as he recounts what he’s seen. “I’ve seen houses engulfed in water,” Hudson comments.
When asked if he saw any damage to his home, he nods. “A little bit, but I’m so grateful it wasn’t worse.”
As the fork lifts begin positioning themselves to take drinks off the truck, Hudson directs the two men on unloading. In the span of less than two weeks, the sight of Coca-Cola vehicles loading and unloading product to be donated has been a familiar sight across the greater Houston area.
More than 10,000 cases of product have been donated to local food banks. For the Red Cross, the Coca-Cola system has donated more than 32,000 cases of product to assist victims in need. From DASANI to POWERADE to fairlife milk, the response from the system has been simple: How do we help?
Donations across the state have been constant. This past week, the system hit a milestone of more than 1 million bottles of product donated to those in need.
Morris Smith, senior manager of public affairs for Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, has been the keeper of numbers for the donations pouring in to the state
“The numbers have grown so much,” he says, smiling as he recounts the truckloads of product unloaded in the week prior. He does some quick math on his calculator before stating: "1,104,000 bottles, to date.”