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Overnight help in a disaster

Manfred Gerth worked with his neighbors and colleagues to aid victims of Hurricane Irma. He does car body planning work at the Chattanooga site.

Pitching in: Manfred Gerth collected donations for victims of Hurricane Irma.

When Hurricane Irma swept up the coast of Florida early in September, it brought havoc and devastation to many cities in just a few hours. Manfred Gerth was almost as fast in developing a plan to help the people affected. “When the hurricane hit the coast, my wife and I had already been thinking about how we could help,” Gerth said. “My neighbor started collecting donations and we joined in. We managed to collect a large amount of food and water – a total of 8,290 kilograms’ worth.

A native of Germany who works in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Gerth has been supporting the launch of the Atlas as well as many other projects. He took one of his personal vacation days to transport the donated goods to Orlando in Florida. Together with his neighbor, he set off on the 900-kilometer drive to deliver the food to the city. When they finally arrived the following morning, they unloaded the donations, helped the other volunteers to sort them, and then returned to the road for the nine-hour drive back to Chattanooga.

» We can all pitch in if we want to. «

Manfred Gerth

Gerth and his neighbor witnessed the degree of devastation at first hand. ­Electricians were hard at work trying to restore power supplies. Many buildings were completely destroyed, and parts of Orlando were under water. Gerth is sure of one thing: “Even though America is not my native country, we are all human beings, and we can all pitch in if we want to.”

Gerth is not alone. Thousands of ­Volkswagen employees have made donations to help hurricane victims. The ­Volkswagen Group of America also donated $100,000 to the Red Cross to assist the organization in providing food and medical supplies.