NEW YORK — K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers raised a record $330,000 at its ninth annual Women in Industry Luncheon on Wednesday.
The event, which took place at 583 Park Avenue, honored Cindy Levitt, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of Hot Topic, and Laura Pomerantz, vice chairman and head of strategic accounts at Cushman & Wakefield.
“They are both very distinguished in business and the community,” said Lisa Gurwitch, president and chief executive officer of K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers.
Christine Ebersole, a two-time Tony-winning artist, was the host and performed at the luncheon. K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers supports poverty-stricken children and families. Donations go all over the country, and the organization recently sent tents, blankets and sleeping bags to Nepal. The luncheon began with a performance by a children’s group, Little Kids Rock from P.S. 98 in Washington Heights, part of a national program supported by the Hot Topic Foundation.
Since 1985, when K.I.D.S. began, more than $1.2 billion of donated products have been distributed through their network of community nonprofits. Last year, 402 companies donated $155 million of new products that were distributed to 643 community partners, according to Allan Ellinger, cochairman of the K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers board and managing partner of MMG.
One woman who has benefited from K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers is Christina Atkins, who spoke at the luncheon. Wearing an outfit donated from Nine West and Kasper via K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, she said she was looking for a permanent job. “I feel fierce in my professional suit,” she said. She received the suit from community partner, Bottomless Closet, an organization that suits up women for job interviews. Atkins said Bottomless Closet will give you a suit for a job interview, and if you get the job, they will outfit you with a week’s worth of clothing. Bottomless Closet also provides professional and personal workshops.
Levitt from Hot Topic told the audience that she became obsessed with fashion when she was in sixth grade and would make her own skirts and sew patches on her denim jeans. When she was once in the budget department of The May Co., her mother told her she could one day become a buyer for a store like that. She studied fashion and started as a buyer of budget accessories. In 1989, she moved from the May Co. to Hot Topic, and the company started opening stores. Today, the retailer has 665 Hot Topic stores and 300 Torrid units.
Growing up in New Mexico, Levitt said she knew of hard times. Her mother was a teacher and her father had a rough time getting work. It was difficult to make ends meet with four children in the family and she appreciated the help they received so they could move to California. “That’s why giving back is so important to me. People helped us get back on our feet,” she said. She said Hot Topic and Torrid are now donating merchandise to K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers.
Marnie Pomerantz MacLean introduced her mother, Laura Pomerantz, and said her mother not only gives her time, resources and expertise to her family, but to other families as well. She said her mother taught her “that you can never give too much. Life is a series of challenges and it’s how we handle it that matters.”
Pomerantz thanked her family, friends and business partners “who are always there to step up and support me and my causes.” She told the audience that K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers provides “hope and dignity.”
“It empowers and provides opportunities for people to progress,” she said.