Kelley alum leads effort as Hoosiers help Houston

Driving home the weekend after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Aaron Williams, BS’08, felt compelled to help. He’d seen the images from Houston, heard the stories, and says he immediately wondered what he could do.

“I got this idea – Hey, maybe I can get a semi-truck and ask people around the city to donate items,” explained Williams, who currently serves as the head of field marketing and analyst relations at Topcoder, a division of Appirio.

Williams got on the phone with the Red Cross and got started. Little did he know, much of the city would get on board, in an effort called “Hoosiers Helping Houston.”

The United Media Network of Indianapolis, which represents all media outlets in central Indiana, and many other central Indiana companies and organizations helped with donations and getting out the word.

Instead of one semi-truck, they worked to fill multiple, with 40 remote locations accepting donations over a several day period in early September 2017.

I'm amazed, overwhelmed and emotional when I think about what transpired in just a short amount of time. Hoosier hospitality is second to none.

Aaron Williams, BS'08

In a phone call updating the progress, Williams said they ended up with 16 trailers full of donations that will go to people affected by both Hurricane Harvey and Irma. They estimated the monetary value of the donations is more than $400,000. The effort also received $25,000 from the Pacers, and thousands more from other local companies and individuals.

“I heard from people who wanted to send donations, and we also had families tell us they have young children who wanted to give up their allowance and buy something to help in Houston. This was a way they could do that,” explained Williams.

Williams will now caravan the donations to three locations affected by hurricanes, along with corporate partners. They’ve even got an offer from Republic Airlines to fly the donations or volunteers down, if need be.

Aaron Williams graduated from the IU Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis in December of 2008, with majors in management and human resource management. He currently is the head of field marketing and analyst relations at Topcoder, a division of Appirio.