Auction Broadcasting Co. aims to raise up to $150,000 to benefit its 13 employees and other residents in the Baton Rouge, La., area who lost homes and belongings during catastrophic floods last month. It's already almost halfway to that goal.
Early last week, ABC President Jason Hockett -- $70,000 check in hand -- traveled from the company's Indianapolis headquarters to Baton Rouge to meet with officials at a local church that will distribute the funds to displaced families.
Donations from ABC employees as well as dealers, consignors and others who do business with the auction company will be matched by ABC, Hockett said, bringing the potential total to $300,000.
ABC's eight auction sites, including ABC Baton Rouge, which was undamaged during the floods, will accept donations through September. During the week of Sept. 7, ABC employees at all sites wore T-shirts emblazoned with "Louisiana Strong" in support of flood victims.
All ABC auction lobbies have signs tracking the donation total. Hockett hopes the T-shirts and signs will encourage customers to give generously.
"Some will see this and be compelled to give, and as a family business and as Christians, our whole philosophy is giving," he said. "We're constantly giving to people in need overseas, in Africa, India and other locations, but when you see your own people and the need in your own backyard, we want them to know that we love them and we're here to support them."
ABC and others have donated to flood-impacted employees. ABC employees in Baton Rouge who were unable to get to work because of the floods were paid their salaries. Those who lost their homes were given $1,000 gift cards to help cover immediate needs.
ABC's homeless employees also received $500 gift cards from the National Auto Auction Association and stand to benefit from a pledge by a consignor to donate $10 to the fund for every vehicle the consignor sells in September.
The $70,000 was collected at ABC's auction sites from employees, dealers and others.
Hockett witnessed some of the deluge firsthand. He and his wife, Paula, were in Baton Rouge helping their son, Joe, who is the auction's fleet and lease manager, and his wife move into their first new home. Hockett saw people frantically loading possessions into their vehicles before evacuating their homes, just as Joe was moving in.
"I'd never seen rain quite like that," Hockett said. "It never stopped."
The rain and flooding was so fierce that the flight home that Hockett and wife were supposed to take was canceled. They drove to New Orleans -- just before the highway out of Baton Rouge was closed -- and got a flight home.
Though Joe Hockett's new neighborhood was evacuated, his home was spared.