Founded in 1985, and led by President & CEO Lisa D. Gurwitch, K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc., is a nonprofit that effectively unites retailers, manufacturers, foundations and individuals to support people affected by poverty and tragedy. More than 97% of the organization's revenue is dedicated to its charitable program of distributing apparel, accessories, shoes, home furnishings, toys, books and other useful items.
We were lucky to get to speak with the amazing organization's Marketing Director Peter Paris, who offered us a deeper look at everything K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc., has achieved for those in need over the past 30+ years.
Q.) What K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc. does in the way of helping to fight the epidemic of poverty in this country and around the world is really remarkable. How did the original idea for the organization come to be?
In 1985, executives in the children’s product industries in NYC came together to help people in need dealing with natural disasters and various crises, and formed K.I.D.S. (Kids In Distressed Situations). The world’s response that year to the famine in Ethiopia helped trigger the idea of taking new, excess product from the industry and donating it to people in need. We also supported victims of the historic 1985 mudslides in Colombia that killed 23,000 people. In 2005, executives from the adult apparel and home fashion industries came together to help U.S. victims of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and formed our “other half” -- Fashion Delivers. On April 7, 2014 our two charities merged to better serve their local nonprofit partners and the donors of new product.
Q.) Your organization provides kids and adults with new products, including apparel, home furnishings, toys, books and school supplies, among many other items. Do you get to see any of the faces of the families as they receive these items? What is that experience like?
Most of our donations are shipped from the donor company directly to the community nonprofit that will use the merchandise for clients in need. We don’t see the faces of the people receiving the donations, but our nonprofit partners provide us with pictures, letters and thank you notes from the clients. The feedback from the people being helped can be incredibly moving, as the need is so great. Staff and board members routinely visit our nonprofit partners so that we can see first-hand the challenges they face and the benefit of our donations. These visits are very poignant as well, with clients often sharing a mix of difficult journeys and hopeful futures.
Q.) What have been some of your organization’s greatest success stories of helping to lift families out of poverty and disaster?
Our experience helping families affected by Superstorm Sandy in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut region was particularly emotional because that disaster was here on our doorstep, and because we continued to help people a year later. Our program with Skechers shoe brand BOBS has been especially helpful for poor families who need shoes for their growing children. Skechers manufactures a useful shoe especially for donation, in sizes to fit kids from age 2 to 12. Having this product made in a wide range of sizes and provided in reliable quantities helps us meet the needs of many poor families with growing kids.
Q.) An astounding $1.2 billion worth of products has been donated and distributed since 1985, when K.I.D.S. was founded. When you look at a staggering number like this, what does it tell you?
We’ve actually reached more than $1.3 billion in donations now, and that number reflects just how generous the fashion, children’s and home companies can be when helping people in need. Our industries are made up of very tight communities that have a lot of empathy and like to help people. We’re blessed to be born from such a group of giving businesses.
Q.) What are some of the brands and community partners that K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc. works with?
Some of our top product donors are Skechers, Toys R Us/Babies R Us, Burlington Stores, Carters/OshKosh B’gosh, Gerber Childrenswear, Gymboree, Men’s Wearhouse, Walt Disney Home Entertainment, H&M, and manufacturers Haddad Brands and Global Brands Group. Our community partners include individual community charities as well as local chapters of Boys & Girls Clubs, local schools and churches, foster kids agencies, armed services support groups, career training nonprofits and many more.
Q.) What are some ways people can get involved and help out your organization?
The easiest way for individuals to become involved is by donating money to us at DonateProduct.com – for every $10 donated we can move $100 of donated merchandise to someone who needs it. We receive about $150 million of donated product each year and transportation or shipping is one of our biggest costs. Additionally, individuals can hold drives to collect new product and donate it to us for delivery to a charity that desperately needs it.
Q.) What’s next for K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc.?
In 2016 we will continue to improve the services we provide to both our donors and our nonprofit community partners; we are also working on a new name and branding identity this year.
For more information on K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc., and the amazing work that they do, visit the official website at www.donateproduct.com.