Hurricane Katrina Creates a Force for Good

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“As I watched the storm, I knew I was powerless to control the forces of nature, but not powerless to help the victims of the storm.” – Allan Ellinger

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic Hurricane Katrina that viciously swept through the southeastern U.S. in 2005. The historic storm killed approximately 2,000 people, left thousands stranded without homes and affected many lives over the last decade. Hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster in the history of the U.S., causing over $108 billion in damages. At the time, K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers was two separate charities working with their respective industries to offer recovery help.

Fashion Delivers was formed by apparel and home fashion companies to help disaster victims with donations of new product. Thirty fashion industry influencers and leaders came together on September 15, 2005, to provide relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The group strategically aligned with the 20-year-old charity Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) to broaden the reach and scope of their help for those affected by the natural disaster.

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“Hurricane Katrina was unlike any of the natural disasters we had seen before,” said Allan Ellinger, one of the founders of Fashion Delivers, and today the co-chairman of K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers. “It impacted so many people and there was such a feeling of helplessness – it really moved me and many colleagues in the industry to see how we could help the survivors recover.”

Working together, the K.I.D.S. and Fashion Delivers teams supported Hurricane Katrina relief efforts by collecting over $16.5 million in product donations to help victims rebuild their lives. The donated product was distributed through community nonprofits that had been long-time partners of K.I.D.S. Many continue to serve the impacted communities today with donations from K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers.

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“Kids In Distressed Situations had been formed in 1985 to help children and families affected by natural disasters, so we had a lot of experience in dealing with survivor recovery,” said Gary Simmons, a long-time board member of K.I.D.S. and now co-chairman of K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers. “The challenges these individuals face can seem daunting, but we’ve seen how receiving even the simplest new items – t-shirts, pants, a new toy or book – can give them hope, dignity and self-esteem.”

K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers has responded to many other disasters, including the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti, wildfires in the western U.S., tornadoes and floods in the country’s heartland and most recently the earthquake in Nepal. K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers also works with over 600 nonprofits each year to provide new product donations for adults, children and families affected by the daily disaster of poverty.

 

Today, K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc. is the charity of choice for new product donations made by hundreds of companies in the fashion, home and children’s industries. Donating new merchandise provides these companies with a simple and effective way to help people in need. K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers is an extremely efficient charity, with more than 97% of revenue dedicated to its charitable program of distributing apparel, accessories, shoes, home furnishings, toys, books and other useful items. Since 1985, over $1.2 billion of donated products have been distributed through our network of community partners, serving the poor and disadvantaged worldwide.