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Team member email leads to amazing surprise for senior class at tornado-ravaged Joplin High School

February 21, 2012

Shortly after lunch one day in early January one of those emails that tugs at your heartstrings was forwarded to my attention. Being in the Global Citizenship department at FedEx, I receive many such emails…requests for help with various philanthropic initiatives around the world. My particular focus area is disaster response, so the requests often have to do with critical lifesaving work.

This particular email was from a FedEx team member, Paul, who used to live near Joplin, Missouri. Last year Joplin was ravaged by one of the worst tornados in US history. The high school was totally destroyed, as was much of the city. Paul had heard from a friend of his back in Missouri of an effort underway to help give the high school seniors in Joplin a sense of normalcy by helping put together a senior prom. With so many other financial needs, the status of prom had been in question.

The plight of this senior class noted in the email was deeply touching. However, the request was certainly not “typical” in the sense that it wasn’t from the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army or one of the other global relief agencies we normally work with in responding to disasters. While we provide millions of dollars each year of cash and in-kind transportation support in response to disasters all over the world, I had never received a request to “help with a prom.”

I leaned back in my chair, considering the request. I thought of all the different aspects of a prom and ways FedEx might be able to help out. It occurred to me that we might be able to team up with one of the companies we work with throughout the year – and especially on important occasions including Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day – on a “special delivery” from FedEx.

After enlisting the help of a couple colleagues, a few phone calls were made and ProFlowers said they would be delighted to donate the 250 corsages and 250 boutonnieres needed for the prom. And – of course – FedEx will provide complimentary transportation for the generous flower donation to ensure delivery on time to the prom venue on Saturday, April 21.

In addition, FedEx made a one-time $2,500 donation to the school. The photo associated with this post shows Joplin-area FedEx Express managers Aric Stockwell, Bryan Scherer and Robert Smith (left to right) making a check presentation to Melissa Blayton who is helping coordinate the prom effort.

Many other local businesses are helping with the prom and superstar Katy Perry made a special guest appearance by way of a pre-recorded video at the special assembly where the seniors were surprised with a special announcement of all the prom-related donations. The school assembly was covered by KSHB-TV. The news clip and associated story may be viewed at:

My heartfelt thanks go to Paul for your email, to my other FedEx colleagues and to so many in the Joplin community and beyond who are making a difference for the seniors at Joplin High.


    Nancy Harkness says:

    Wow, what a wonderful thing you at FedEx are doing for a wonderful town. I lived in Joplin and had moved in the summer of 2008 back to Indiana. We lived 3 blocks from Joplin High School, so needless to say the house we lived in was completely destroyed in the Tornado. I have many friends there that lost everything, and some that lost loved-ones in this devastating storm. I am so overwhelmed with emotions knowing that these kids will have a prom this year! Thanks so very much! Nancy Harkness

    Ethan Frizzell says:


    Your heart of compassion leads well the FedEx position as a Global Citizen! Thank you FedEx for leading the way once again to allow corporations the opportunity to invest in lives, bring joy, and fulfill hope. Every blessing.

    MayLyn says:

    That is so wonderful that all of you at FedEx are helping this school have their senior prom that the desirve! I’m so thankful to be a FedEx member and to be able to be apart of all of these wonderful things that you do!
    Thanks FedEx for making a differance in the world!

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