Minnesota organizations boost aid for Texans in aftermath of winter storm


Minnesota’s philanthropic community is beginning to drum up aid for Texans suffering from power failures and major shortages of drinking water.

In Minneapolis, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, started by Best Buy founder Dick Schulze, is helping Best Buy employees in Texas, doling out thousands of dollars in emergency aid starting next week. More than 100 employees have applied so far for the foundation’s grants that benefit Best Buy employees in disaster zones.

“The focus and emphasis is to get the assistance there quickly,” said Kelly Webster, the foundation’s senior program officer, adding that the applications illustrate the crisis facing Texans, with grocery stores without food, and people sleeping in their cars.

While the foundation’s grants are usually focused on people and organizations in Minnesota and Florida, the program for Best Buy employees has doled out $2 million to workers nationwide since 2017.

Minneapolis-based Thrivent is also boosting support for five Texas nonprofits that will directly aid Texans with food and other supplies. The nonprofit financial services organization is pledging a $50,000 match, giving $1 for every $2 donated by clients.

“It’s basically a grassroots approach to helping out with our clients and having them demonstrate generosity,” Thrivent spokeswoman Callie Briese said.

The Texas Tribune has also compiled a list at texastribune.org of nonprofits and organizations on the front lines of the emergency response that people can donate to in Texas.

In St. Louis Park, Underdog Rescue sent two volunteers to Texas before the winter storm for a planned trip, rescuing pets from an animal shelter near the Mexican border. Once the storm hit, the animal shelter’s pipes froze, leaving animals without water; space heaters ran out of propane gas.

“It was really dire,” said Shannon McKenzie, Underdog Rescue’s executive director.

Her Minnesota nonprofit rushed to help, sending gallons of water, tarps and propane tanks to Texas. Then the two volunteers drove the treacherous icy roads back to Minnesota, shuttling 69 dogs, two guinea pigs and one cat that were placed in foster homes.

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141

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