ODESSA, TEXAS — Odessa-based businessman and philanthropist John Bushman has pledged to donate $100,000 toward relief efforts made in Lee County after the deadly tornado strike Sunday.
Bushman choked back tears this week as he reflected on watching news footage depicting the damage from Alabama, telecast to his home in the oil boom town in West Texas.
Bushman, the CEO of Investment Corporation of America (ICA), said he needed to help immediately.
On Tuesday, Bushman pledged $100,000 to relief efforts, while organizing a donation drive this weekend in Odessa. The donations will be sent to the American Red Cross and earmarked for tornado relief efforts.
“I have that responsibility and that need, because I’ve been gifted with so many gifts in my life,” Bushman said. “I recognize I’m in a position to do that and I know not everyone is able to do that. There are some people barely scraping by themselves, but those of us that are in that position want to awaken the need to help other people.”
Bushman has invited the public to a donation drive Saturday inside the Music City Mall in Odessa — the mall that his business owns, along with hotels and other properties in the city.
Kathy Swindler, ICA vice president and director of marketing, explained the importance of rapidly constructing a benefit following a natural disaster.
“We have to move pretty quickly, because the need will go on for a long time,” Swindler said. “We have some great team members and everyone pitched in and we were ready to go.”
In September 2018, Bushman helped raise $276,000 for Hurricane Florence relief efforts during an ICA concert. Those proceeds were split evenly between Feeding America, the American Red Cross and United Way.
Bushman said the reasoning behind choosing the American Red Cross for tornado relief efforts is that the nonprofit has the mobility to impact the damaged areas more readily.
“I’m not sure that I could go there and allocate money,” Bushman said. “I just have to trust people that can do that and have done it for years.”
On Sunday afternoon, 23 people were killed in the nation’s deadliest tornado in nearly six years, and many more were displaced from their residences.
Bushman said he couldn’t imagine being forced to start anew without outside assistance.
“We are just trying to respond to basic human need,” Bushman said. “I’m partial to people in remote areas, because I know what kind of money they make and they scarcely get by. I was born and raised in that kind of environment and I can always relate to those people real well.
“It’s such a tough deal and it breaks my heart to see that. Our hearts should go out to those folks.”
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