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In The Pink: Ways Owners Support Their Communities (Part 1)

Garment care owners help people in need, told in three examples

CHICAGO — In the pink! That’s a phrase that means you’re healthy, you’re doing well, and in this case, you are also helping out your fellow citizens in need through all of your good works. (Also, these smiling volunteers in the photo are wearing pink to raise awareness and support for finding a cure for breast cancer.)

Drycleaning owners across the United States participate in their local events for the good of their communities and to support charities that help people in need. As examples, we picked out three owners from different parts of the country to share that community service spirit.

CARE IS IN THE AIR

First off, meet Salomon Mishaan, the owner of OXXO Care Cleaners®, with main offices in Hollywood, Fla. This franchise was started in 2001 and notes that it features environmentally safe dry cleaning using GreenEarth®, and a convenient automatic 24/7 pickup system.

“OXXO’s culture was built on a We Care philosophy, so from its beginnings we have always had working with our community on our minds, to participate in helping out in every way we can,” says Mishaan.

We’re talking about community service, tell us all the ways you and your business reach out and help your community?

Mishaan: “From the start, having care for the environment is in our DNA, we support GreenPeace, and have sponsored the South Florida Community in Bloom, an organization that plants trees in parks. And the Green Umbrella, which has planted 1,000 trees.

“We have been involved with the community in helping feed the homeless at Camillus House, our work force has volunteered their work at different foundations such as Feeding South Florida and Building South Florida which happened on National Rebuild Day. We’ve worked with NBC collecting toys on Christmas, amongst other work.”

Let’s talk about how your business first started out helping your community: How did you and your drycleaning business first get involved?

Mishaan: “Actually, the involvement is voluntary; we are always looking to see what the community is doing, or requesting sponsors, not only with contributions but mainly with personal participation. We started with Camillus House, and with all the others I mentioned before.”

Can you share some stories of people you’ve helped and how that community service touches your own team and you, personally?

Mishaan: “It is always great to see the joyful faces of the people we come to help when our volunteers and I enter the warehouse at Feeding South Florida and they see out team start filling boxes, or the persons whose house we paint on National Rebuild Day, with Building South Florida.

“One sponsorship that we feel is very important is contributing to the Fraternal Order of Police, they put their lives on the line for us every day, they deserve all the help we can give them.”

What are some of the best ways to get the word out about community events and charities coming up to your customers and partners and others who can help spread the word?

Mishaan: “We, as a franchise, invite our franchisees to the events and they also look within their community. We see that word gets out when the press mentions OXXO’s participation, but really the community sees us because we are present.”

Anything surprise you, in a good way of course, about your drycleaning business participating in these charitable events and drives?

Mishaan: “It is not surprising; our customers see our involvement and mention it at the counter and even say thank you for your help. They make us feel we are part of the community.”

Could you share a tip or two with other drycleaning owners who might want to start helping their community?

Mishaan: “More than a tip; be part of the community, it feels good and it is very appreciated.”

Anything else you’d like to add about community service?

Mishaan: “Show you care. Participate.”

COMMUNITY SERVICE IS OUR MISSION

Next, meet Charles Anton, third generation co-owner, along with his brother Arthur Anton, Jr., of Anton’s Cleaners, in Massachusetts. In business for 107 years, this privately-owned operation has more than 40 locations in the country, 28 of which are processing plants, it relates.

“Our commitment to community service is a core part of our company mission. We believe it is important to leverage our company, resources, connections, and customer base, to help local families in need in a tangible way,” says Charles Anton.

“We’ve been fortunate over the years to have employees that reinforce our mission in their everyday interactions and are also dedicated to making our community service initiatives a priority.”

Speaking about community service, tell us all the ways you and your business reach out and help your community?

Anton: “Our highly successful Coats for Kids program has collected, cleaned, and distributed over one million coats, free of charge, to local families in need since the program began in 1995. This represents approximately $15,500,000 in donated cleaning costs.

“Year after year, our goal is unchanged: Anyone who needs a coat will have one.

“In 2006 we launched Belle of the Ball, a program to collect, clean, and distribute prom gowns to local high school junior and senior girls who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend their school’s prom.

“The program has grown from outfitting fewer than 100 girls at our annual Boutique Day, to inviting over 1,000 young ladies for an indulgent day of prom “shopping,” free of charge, at a premier convention center in Boston. The invited students walk away with not only a prom gown, but all the necessary accessories to match!

Belle of the Ball is, on the surface a dress collection drive, but at its core it is a powerful personal experience for each young woman who attends. For an inside looks at Belle of the Ball Boutique, take a moment to watch a video of our 2019 event: https://vimeo.com/329648465.

“For both programs, Anton’s contribution extends far beyond cleaning costs, we also coordinate and manage an extensive partnership network to ensure that the programs reach local families in need and improve the lives of those in the communities we serve.

“To support the growth of both programs, we established our 501c3 arm, Caring Partners, Inc. The mission of Caring Partners is to develop and implement programs to collect and distribute good quality articles of clothing to children, individuals, and families in need.

“Much larger companies have approached us to ask about our community service programs, often noting that they would never be able to, ‘do what we do.’ We’ve leveraged our business in a way that takes our services and makes the most basic needs of our community a priority.”

Let’s talk about how your business first started out helping your community: How did you and your drycleaning business first get involved?

Anton: “Community service is something that was instilled in my brother and I ever since we were young. We always knew that we wanted to leverage our business in a way to help the communities that we serve. Coats for Kids and Belle of the Ball seemed like a natural extension of the services we were already offering.

“In some ways, these programs are creating a responsible recycling initiative for coats and prom dresses. A coat or prom dress in good condition shouldn’t have one ‘life,’ it can live on through others in need.”

Can you share some stories of people you’ve helped and how that community service touches your own team and you, personally?

Anton: “I’ll never forget a call we received from a middle school guidance counselor who had a 13-year-old student say to her, ‘I’m so glad we are collecting coats. That means that every kid can be warm this winter.’

“In short, our programs resonate. Not just with the customer donating coats or dresses, but with the young people who can understand that a winter coat that kept them warm, is now keeping another child warm.

“Similarly, we see prom dresses re-donated to Belle of the Ball and students who received dresses from us registering as volunteers for the annual Belle of the Ball Boutique Day.

“It’s amazing seeing our vision touch so many lives in a meaningful way.”

What are some of the best ways to get the word out about community events and charities coming up to your customers and partners and others who can help spread the word?

Anton: “The best way to help, is to start a coat or a dress drive! Anyone can become a collection partner for our programs.”

Anything surprise you, in a good way of course, about your drycleaning business participating in these charitable events and drives?

Anton: “A simple idea can turn into a meaningful program. We knew that we had the ability to help people in need. I don’t think any of us realized the impact we would actually have on the communities we serve.

“All the coats we collect are absorbed, every year. That means that there are 50,000 people this season that didn’t have to choose between buying a winter coat or putting food on the table. It also means that there were 50,000 people, who may have otherwise chosen to let their coat collect dust in a hall closet, that heard our message.

“Our Belle of the Ball event also surprises us every year. The dedication from our community partners and volunteers is unlike anything we have ever seen. When we see a young woman that found ‘the dress,’ we can’t help but feel joy.”

Could you share a tip or two with other drycleaning owners who might want to start helping their community?

Anton: “It’s important to look at what you are doing to help the local community and never stop improving. Our programs may be turn-key, but they are also continuously evolving and changing to be better than the season before.”

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.