The Silver Lining in the Cloud of the Volcano

With Iceland’s dangerous debris-filled volcanic ash cloud still wreaking havoc, delaying deliveries of critical supplies and stranding thousands of air travelers in airports around the world, I wonder why more companies and organizations have not seen this major crisis as one that they can help address and as the image building pr opportunity of the decade.

While thousands of tourists sit waiting in limbo, with scarce cash and food and nowhere to bathe, why haven’t more companies and nonprofits stepped into the void to offer assistance and strengthen their reputations as caring, compassionate and nimble global citizens at the same time?

Yes, the Red Cross and some consulates have provided some food and cots but in addition to their modest and appreciated efforts, there is so much more that could be done. Wouldn’t it have made sense for the airlines to give their weary passengers a little extra comfort instead of focusing only on pressuring the authorities to let them back up into the still-to-be-proven safe skies? Why haven’t they partnered with Starbucks, Nature Valley Trail Mix Bars, McDonald’s, Huggies Diapers, people to ease these passengers’ situation? Why haven’t the airports brought in the clowns to provide a little entertainment for young children? What a great opportunity for social service agencies in transatlantic hub cities to show their skill at helping out in times of need.

With all the media focused on this still unfolding story, I heard of only one story where people stepped forward to help. A family from Long Island, New York, after watching the news coverage about a young Scottish family stranded at JFK Airport, drove to the airport and brought the family home, giving them their extra bedroom and a bathroom to use until air travel resumed. It’s a wonderful story and will doubtless make these two families lifelong friends. You would think consumer goods companies and nonprofits would figure out that giving help when least expected and most needed always results in enormous good will.

There is a the silver lining in the cloud of dust and debris if you should choose to look for it.