HOUSTON – Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres sat down Wednesday to meet with Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale virtually about his efforts to give back to Houstonians during last week’s Texas winter storm, including opening both Gallery Furniture locations as warming shelters.
Mattress Mack told DeGeneres he hoped to open both his North Freeway and Galleria locations as warming shelters on Monday, but Mayor Sylvester Turner told him to hold off until Tuesday due to snow and ice in the area. About 300 to 400 people showed up that night, so his staff had to be careful due to COVID-19 concerns.
“My parents taught me when I was a little child, the essence of living is giving. We have a saying here at Gallery Furniture that we have a responsibility for the well-being of the community,” McIngvale said. “So if something bad happens, we wanted to be the first business to act because it’s our job to help the community, not just take money out of the community.”
Mattress Mack added that there’s still a lot of work to be done for recovery, especially since Houston’s water supply had changed after numerous boil water notices.
At the end of his interview, DeGeneres wanted to help his GoFundMe page hit his goal of $50,000 to help winter storm victims. She announced Shutterfly will donate $20,000 to the cause.
Over 700 Houstonians called Gallery Furniture a place of shelter and over 4,000 meals were delivered thanks to Mattress Mack, DeGeneres said during her show.
“He is a definition of an American hero,” DeGeneres said.
This wasn’t the first time the Gallery Furniture owner opened his stores to those in need. During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, some evacuees sought shelter at the North Freeway location.