October 15, 2018
Jeff ShelmanStaff Writer
WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA — When Hurricane Florence hit the North Carolina coast on Sept. 13, our Best Buy stores in Wilmington and Morehead City sustained significant water damage. Both remain closed.
How Best Buy has responded since then — continuing to pay employees who are doing volunteer work in the community — has gotten the attention of lawmakers and officials in Washington, D.C., who recently requested a visit to learn more.
On Monday, a group of national and local government officials visited the Wilmington Best Buy store to meet with employees. The group included U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and three members of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation: Sen. Thom Tillis, Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. David Rouzer. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and Woody White, Chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners, also attended.
“Having individuals like you and a company like Best Buy stepping up and showing up, from our perspective, is very gratifying,” Acosta said. “I just want to say thank you.’
Said Carson: “We just have incredible thanks for Best Buy’s support. What a great group of people who have their hearts in the right spot.”
Employees volunteer for several organizations
Wilmington store general manager Dale Marshall said he was informed shortly after the hurricane that employees could work at other stores or volunteer in the community and continue to be paid. Between Wilmington and Morehead City, Best Buy employs about 200 people in full- and part-time roles. Best Buy operates 33 stores and employs about 3,200 people in all of North Carolina.
“After we got the word out to our employees, my phone started blowing up with text messages and pictures from our employees volunteering,” Marshall said. “I’m thankful to work for the best company in the world and have the best employees in the world.”
Best Buy Blue Shirts and Geek Squad Agents have volunteered for several organizations. They range from The Salvation Army to the Cajun Navy to a group that fed power line workers who were restoring electricity to the North Carolina coast.
“Thank you for setting a great example, not just for the community, but for the country,” Burr said.
While the store employees are eager to get back to work — the goal is to have both locations reopened by Thanksgiving — they have appreciated what Best Buy has done.
“It has been our pleasure [to volunteer],” said Anton Ballard, a home theater supervisor in Wilmington. “We are just happy to work for a company that allows us to help out.”
Supporting employees, communities
In addition to paying employees for volunteering in the community, Best Buy employees in disaster-stricken areas are eligible for financial support from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, which was established by the company’s founder, Dick Schulze. Best Buy employees in other parts of the country who give to the Schulze fund for the benefit of their colleagues can have their donations matched 100 percent by Best Buy. In addition, employees can donate their paid time off to colleagues affected by disaster.
Best Buy customers across the United States can donate to the American Red Cross via BestBuy.com, the Best Buy mobile app or during the checkout process at our stores.
Rouzer, who represents nine counties in Eastern North Carolina that have all received disaster declarations by the federal government, is thankful for Best Buy’s Blue Shirts and Geek Squad agents.
“We really appreciate all of the work, the effort and the volunteerism,” he said. “It is what makes America great, neighbors helping neighbors.”
In addition to the volunteer work, Best Buy provided tablets to the Salvation Army’s mobile canteen trucks, which deliver food and Wi-Fi connectivity to people. These tablets help people connect with loved ones and get back on their feet.
“That’s really important,” Acosta said. “Because of your work, you’ve helped people apply for disaster relief programs.”
Mayor Bill Saffo commended Best Buy.
“You’re taking care of your employees, you’re being a good corporate citizen,” Saffo said. “Now we just need you to be reopened as soon as possible.”
We invite customers to support recovery efforts by donating to the Red Cross.