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Southwest Florida nonprofits, charities are hopeful for Hertz help

May 9, 2013
Mary Briggs
Mary Briggs
Sarah Owen

Hertz giving

Number of homes Hertz employees have built for Habitat for Humanity: 7

Amount employees donated to United Way since 1996: $9.1 million

Number of meals Hertz employees filled and delivered for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma City: 18,946

Number of personal computers donated to African schools: more than 1,000

Amount Hertz global headquarters employees raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation: $140,000

Cliff Smith


More coverage of Hertz moving headquarters to Lee County

Though most of the fevered speculation ended when Hertz announced its decision to relocate its headquarters to Estero, one sector is still wondering what the move might mean to them: Southwest Florida charities.

With a strong record of philanthropy and employee volunteerism, the company has long supported nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army and the Red Cross, both at its New Jersey home base and at its offices worldwide.

“Hertz partners with a number of philanthropic organizations in our current headquarters and nationally,” said spokesman Richard Broome in an email. “Through our Headquarter Heroes program, our employees work with us to identify the philanthropic activities the company supports. We plan to take the same approach to our partnerships in Lee County.”

Local groups say they’ll be delighted if that tradition continues in Hertz’s new home.

“It’s all we’ve been talking about,” quipped Lee Memorial Health System spokeswoman Mary Briggs. “We’ve decided they can name our new south Lee hospital, and then we’ll run a campaign saying ‘If it hurts, go to Hertz.’”

This week, most area nonprofits were still in research mode.

“I just read (the news) in the paper, so I’m still processing it,” said Cliff Smith, president of the local United Way. “I do know they’re big United Way supporters and that they run campaigns in their workplaces, so I’m looking forward to meeting them all and working with them.”

“Thrilled” is also the word Colin Downey of the Red Cross and Sarah Owen, president of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, used to describe their reaction to the news.

Excitement and expectations are high, said Owen, who attended the news conference, because philanthropy is so deeply ingrained in Hertz’s corporate culture. “What was so inspiring to me is how they took a moment that could just have been about the business and emphasized that they want to be engaged and involved, Owen said..

It’s certainly been that in New Jersey, she points out, where the Cancer Research Institute last year gave Hertz CEO Mark P. Frissora its distinguished service award.

“It starts at the top,” Owen said. “With leadership so committed to the community, we’re ready to welcome them with open arms.”

And Hertz is ready to learn about Southwest Florida’s needs, said Broome. “Our goal is to introduce ourselves to the community and develop strategic partnerships.”

Edison State College Foundation Executive Director Kevin Miller said he’s willing to give them time to get settled, first.

“You don’t rush over to the new neighbor’s house right away,” Miller says. “You give them a little time, let them unpack. Then you can take them over a pie.”


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