NEW YORK — The nonprofit organization formed for fashion and home goods firms to help disaster victims now has an official name: Fashion Delivers Charitable Foundation Inc.
While Hurricane Katrina inspired Allan Ellinger, a partner at Marketing Management Group, to form the foundation, the purpose of the not-for-profit is to aid fashion companies help disaster victims rebuild their lives, anytime and anywhere tragedy strikes.
The foundation expects the initial merchandise received by participating companies to be shipped to Katrina victims, with products available on an ongoing basis for distribution throughout the year. Companies are expected to contribute new products.
In most instances, firms that donate goods qualify for a charitable deduction. Depending on the type of legal entity — such as a corporation, partnership or limited liability company — the deduction can range from the cost of inventory to up to twice its cost.
Ellinger will chair the board. Some of the other members include: Dick Baker, president, Op, a division of Warnaco Group Inc.; Rick Darling, president, Li & Fung USA; Mark Heller, executive vice president, CIT Group/Commercial Services; Elyse Kroll, president of ENK International; Abby Parsonette, senior vice president, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; John Pomerantz, former chairman, Leslie Fay; Jay Silver, partner, Mahoney Cohen; Michael Setola, president, Oxford Industries, and Haresh Tharani, chairman, Bill Blass Ltd.
The foundation, which is allied with Kids in Distressed Situations Inc., can be reached at 800-818-1388. The group is in the process of obtaining a local telephone number in Manhattan, and is temporarily using the K.I.D.S. local number, which is 212-279-5493. The Web site address is fashiondelivers.org.
According to Ellinger, the group decided to work with K.I.D.S. because of its similar capacity in mobilizing the children’s industry and its ability to provide Fashion Delivers with an operating infrastructure that can ship goods to where they are needed. Rather than store up products, K.I.D.S. arranges for donor members to send items directly to an agency in their community.
Janice Weinman, president of K.I.D.S., had explained that, by piggybacking on the existing channels of distribution, her organization can run efficiently with a low 3 percent overhead and guarantee that 100 percent of donations go directly to families in need.
While Fashion Delivers does not accept monetary donations on a regular basis, it may from time to time conduct fund-raising activities to help defray overhead costs. Ellinger said through the assistance of K.I.D.S., Fashion Delivers should be able to operate on a “very low overhead cost structure.”
“The project started out of the frustrations of a few wholesalers who wanted to make clothing donations, but didn’t know how to coordinate them. Allan Ellinger inquired if Oxford was doing anything, which we were, and I explained [the company] had set up a donation and matching contributions fund,” said Setola.
Darling said of his company’s participation: “It’s the right thing to do.” His firm, which also donated goods when the tsunami hit Southeast Asia in December, will be providing home textiles and apparel items.
“We are prepared to be involved for the long [haul]. This is not a onetime contribution. It will take a number of years for Katrina victims to get back on their feet. Scientists said that we could be in a 20-year cycle, so the [Katrina disaster] is not the first and it won’t be the last. We will contribute where we can,” Darling said.
Senior advisers to the foundation include Marvin Sandberg, former chief operating officer of PCA Apparel; Norman Karr, former executive director of The Fashion Association, and Ed Kaminow, former president and chief executive officer of Westmill Clothes.
Several professional service firms, whose clients are in the fashion industry, have agreed to waive fees to assist the foundation.