Cruzan Rum, a brand of Beam Suntory, Chicago, has launched the Island Spirit Fund to help the U.S. Virgin Islands and communities across the United States rebuild following the destruction caused by last year’s Hurricane Maria, the company said. The company, with support from distributor partners and fundraising, hopes to raise $2 million for the Fund by the end of 2018, it adds.

As a founding sponsor of the Island Spirit Fund, Cruzan Rum will donate $1 from every case of rum sold for the next five years without a sales cap to support disaster relief efforts, helping rebuild and renew communities impacted by storms of all kinds, it says. The commitment is expected to generate nearly $1 million for the Fund this year, it adds. With the help of case-matching donation commitments from several distributor partners and anticipated public fundraising, the rum company aims to raise $2 million for the Fund by the end of 2018, it says.

“Last year, our home island of St. Croix faced many challenges in the devastating wake of Hurricane Maria, but the resiliency of the Crucian people and our sense of community never wavered,” said Gary Nelthropp, Cruzan Rum’s Master Distiller, in a statement. “That’s what we like to call our ‘island spirit,’ and I’m honored to help extend this spirit to others in a sustainable and ongoing way through the Fund, ensuring that no community, near or far, weathers a storm alone.”

Established in partnership with Global Giving, a nonprofit organization that connects donors with grassroots projects around the world, the Island Spirit Fund provides disaster relief by issuing grants to local organizations with boots on the ground and lasting relationships in affected areas. The Fund prioritizes both short-term recovery and long-term stability projects, including environmental rebuilding, community planning, workforce development and job creation.

By listening directly to affected communities' needs, the Fund provides a customized approach to providing relief including, but not limited to, nourishment, supplies and volunteer support. In the immediate future, the Fund’s focus will be on areas still recovering from Hurricane Maria’s devastation. The Fund will also provide help in response to future storms, it adds.

Rashidi Hodari, vice president of marketing for Cruzan Rum, said: “We’re proud to support our Cruzan family and neighbors in the USVI and beyond with the launch of the Island Spirit Fund, and we’re incredibly humbled by the way our distributor partners have stepped up to further our efforts. Our roots in the Caribbean run deep, and by joining together, we’re able to provide much needed physical and emotional support beyond the initial days, weeks and months following disaster. We look forward to awakening the ‘island spirit’ both now and in the years to come.”

As a founding sponsor, Cruzan will absorb the cost of all transactional fees associated with all donations to the Island Spirit Fund, so that 100 percent of donors’ generosity goes directly to communities in need.

In addition to its case-matching fund, fans of Cruzan’s rum can make a direct donation via, it says.

In 2017, Cruzan and its parent company, Beam Suntory, provided more than $2 million in cash and in-kind support for disaster relief in the U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands and Mexico, which also included a $500,000 donation to the fund for the Virgin Islands late last year, the company said.