Rapid Response in the Wake of Tragedy is Key to Responsible Corporate Citizenship

Eileen Howard Boone headshot_2013As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we were deeply affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. Several of our colleagues were running the race while others were spectators just a few blocks away from the finish line. We quickly realized the magnitude of the tragedy and its impact on our local community. There was a great sense of urgency within the company to assist in the community's recovery in any way we could.

In my role as SVP of Community Relations and President of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, the private foundation of CVS Caremark, I’m responsible for creating and managing philanthropic programs that make a lasting impact on communities nationwide. We take pride in all that we do in our communities as a responsible corporate citizen and believe serving the community should be a priority for every business. Through CVS Caremark’s disaster relief efforts, such as our Hurricane Sandy response, we know firsthand an effective and nimble response is required when a community is recovering from tragedy. When Hurricane Sandy devastated many New York and New Jersey communities, CVS Caremark colleagues jumped into action to help. We worked quickly to reopen all stores that were closed due to the storm and in some cases we used generators to power stores located in areas that were coping with lingering power outages. We also set up temporary mobile pharmacies so customers could continue to get important medications they needed to stay healthy and supplies like paper towels, bleach, batteries and snacks. In some cases, our colleagues even delivered prescription medications to stranded customers. Our philanthropic mission to give back to the communities we serve through impactful community engagement and support is what drives us as a company. We drew upon these previous disaster relief experiences, and they spurred us to move quickly to support our local community in Boston.

Within days of the Boston Marathon, the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust donated $100,000 in support of The One Fund Boston, a fund established by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to raise money for victims and families affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy. In addition to this support, because we know the importance of coming together as a community, especially during times of tragedy, we wanted to give our colleagues and customers an opportunity to join our efforts to support The One Fund. A few days following the Boston Marathon, more than 260 CVS/pharmacy stores in the Greater Boston area held in-store donation campaigns that allowed customers to make a donation directly to the One Fund at store checkouts and pharmacy counters.

This required quite a bit of logistical management, but it was incredible to see my partners in store operations jumping at the opportunity to do anything they could to help. This was unprecedented for us as we currently manage two in-store fundraising campaigns each year and have not made this kind of exception in the past. But this was different, our colleagues, our customers our friends and neighbors were so deeply affected by this tragedy that we knew we needed to react in a way we hadn’t before. The result was very humbling.

We were so proud of our colleagues who responded quickly to launch and support this fundraising campaign and our customers who generously made donations to help victims and families in their recovery. The in-store campaign was a tremendous success and our customers raised more than $650,000 in just a few weeks. It was truly remarkable to see our colleagues and customers rally together to show their support.

A few months after the bombings, Rolling Stone announced that the accused Boston Marathon bomber would be featured on the cover of its August issue. We chose to do something unprecedented one more time. CVS/pharmacy was the first retailer to choose not to sell the issue in our stores out of respect for the victims, their families and everyone in the local community who was affected by the bombings. Many of our customers and colleagues were personally affected by the bombings and we didn’t want the cover photo to be a painful reminder during their recovery process. The decision to ban the issue from our stores was a proud moment for the company and we received an outpouring of support not only from the Boston community, but from communities nationwide.

As demonstrated by our actions in response to the Boston Marathon bombings, CVS Caremark is committed to supporting communities where our customers and colleagues live and work, especially in the wake of tragedy.

As we approach the six-month anniversary of the Boston Marathon, we as a community remain “Boston Strong” and want to thank all our colleagues and customers for joining in our efforts to support The One Fund.