Hotels, Witherell donate bedding to worthy cause

Matching local needs with organizations that have the means to fulfill them has long been the mission of Greenwich resident Joe Kaliko and state Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151st). And the duo was at it again last week, helping the Neighbor to Neighbor food and clothing pantry acquire much needed bedding for their underprivileged clients.

According to Neighbor to Neighbor Executive Director Nancy Coughlin, the match was made as the result of a lull in summer donations. With few items trickling into the organization over the last few weeks, there was little for volunteers to accomplish.

The circumstances prompted Ms. Coughlin to ask volunteer Kenyetta Powell to research potential ways to acquire sheets for the facility, as there are rarely enough of them to meet demand, Ms. Coughlin told the Post.

Looking into “big box” stores like Walmart and Target, Ms. Powell discovered that these large retailers had programs whereby local organizations could request donations but they entailed fairly complicated application processes without guaranteeing needs would be met, Ms. Coughlin said. Fortunately, she added, in her research, Ms. Powell came across a newspaper article about the Needs Clearing House — an informal organization founded by Mr. Kaliko and Mr. Camillo that matches local needs with those who can meet them.

Recognizing the organization’s potential to aid Neighbor to Neighbor, Ms. Powell took it upon herself to call Mr. Kaliko and found just the assistance she was hoping for, Ms. Coughlin said.

In an interview with the Post, Mr. Kaliko said that after speaking to Ms. Powell, he and Mr. Camillo set about calling area hotels, as well as Greenwich Hospital, in hopes of finding a facility to donate sheets to Neighbor to Neighbor.

“The feedback was surprising and great,” Mr. Kaliko said.

Although the hospital leases their sheets out and the Hyatt turns its sheets in to a company that shreds them to create rags, Mr. Kaliko was able to establish a partnership between Neighbor to Neighbor and the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa within 20 minutes of speaking to hotel staff members in person.

Shortly afterward, a small town hotel that Mr. Kaliko said wished to remain anonymous, as well as The Nathaniel Witherell short-term rehab and skilled nursing center, also stepped up to meet Neighbor to Neighbor’s need for linens. In less than a week, Mr. Kaliko said, the problem had been solved.

The Witherell, in fact, was on the verge of discarding a number of sheets because they were unaware of Neighbor to Neighbor’s need for linens, Mr. Kaliko said. Accordingly, after learning of the demand, the facility donated 150 boxed sheets last Thursday, which will fit twin and double sized mattresses, he said.

“I would have been happy to bring some home,” Mr. Kaliko said. “They were in great shape.”

The Marriott is also preparing to donate a large quantity of sheets to Neighbor to Neighbor sometime next week, Chief Housekeeper Kev Pillay said. According to Ms. Pillay, the 508-room hotel discards approximately 50 to 100 sheets each month, having them turned into rags whenever possible. Being able to donate those linens to needy community members instead is something the hotel is very happy to do, she said, adding that finding another source for rags shouldn’t be a problem.

The Marriott is no stranger to community outreach, however. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the hotel washed blankets and pillows for local families who had no other means of laundering them at the time, Ms. Pillay said. In addition, the hotel often donates its old towels to a nearby animal shelter, she said.

The partnership between the Marriott and Neighbor to Neighbor is expected to be long-term, although there are still details to work out, according to Ms. Coughlin. The director said she was “thrilled” to form a relationship with the hotel and grateful for their forthcoming donation, especially since king and queen sized sheets are most needed and the facility has plenty of that size on hand.

“It was a nice way to work together in the community,” Ms. Coughlin said, adding that many of the residents in Greenwich, Stamford and Port Chester, N.Y. — the communities Neighbor to Neighbor provides free clothing and household items to — do not realize that linens are something the organization has a need for.

Ms. Coughlin is also thankful for both Mr. Kaliko’s and Ms. Powell’s enthusiasm for the project, she said, adding that the 2,600 Neighbor to Neighbor clients eligible for bedding have already begun to use the sheets donated by The Witherell.

To contact the Needs Clearing House, call Joe Kaliko at 203-629-5555 or email [email protected]


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