Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 02 December 2011 00:00
The Inn at Fox Hollow, an all-suite luxury hotel located on Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury, had a dilemma: with brand-new furniture ordered for approximately 150 rooms, what was there to do with the many tons of old furniture? Often, unwanted furniture goes straight to the landfill, but in this case, the furniture was only five years old.
Fortunately, The Advance Group, located in Old Bethpage, was able to provide a solution. Designed and led by USGBC LEED accredited professionals, their Sustainable Relocation Division cataloged the unwanted items and found a recipient for them in the local Salvation Army. The division coordinated the move, transporting all the bedroom furniture, desks, and kitchen appliances. By Nov. 29, the Salvation Army had received the massive donation in its entirety.
“The furniture is in very good condition, so we didn’t want to see it just thrown out…[we were interested in] giving back to the community, trying to find a beneficiary for the fairly new, lightly-used furniture,” said Vicki Colacicco, Business Development and Marketing Manager for Scotto Brothers, representing The Inn at Fox Hollow.
Anthony Parziale, vice president of The Advance Group, said that they had worked with The Inn at Fox Hollow before on smaller scale projects. When the hotel contacted him about the possible furniture donation, he immediately contacted John Parisi at The Salvation Army, who quickly agreed to accept the donation.
Naturally, moving 200 tons of anything doesn’t happen without logistics being taken into account. The Advance Group coordinated their efforts with the hotel’s facilities manager so that unoccupied rooms would be available in blocks, allowing the movers to work in one part of the building without disrupting hotel guests. The move took place over the course of two nonconsecutive weeks.
In addition, the organization’s focus on sustainability extends to the packing materials: instead of using disposable boxes, the movers in the Sustainable Relocation Division use recyclable containers with 500 times the lifespan of corrugated cardboard containers.
While The Advance Group only launched its sustainable relocation division in the spring of this year, it has already completed ten “sustainable moves,” and half a dozen more are in the works, said Parziale. In addition to qualifying for valuable tax credits, the program allows corporations to both assist not-for-profits and charities, as well as demonstrate their concern for the environment by keeping tons of waste out of landfills.
“We came up with the concept because we recognized the opportunity in our industry to basically get on the whole sustainable bandwagon,” he said. “We’re the innovators.”
For the Salvation Army, while a donation this size isn’t completely unprecedented, it is certainly welcome.
“It’s not like a donation like this has never happened before, but they’re few and far between,” said Damon Rader, administrator of The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center. “Hopefully, this will start a new trend of more and more corporations supporting the Salvation Army’s work. When they give us non-monetary donations, it goes directly to fund our rehabilitation program.”
The rehabilitation center, located in Hempstead, is a 100-bed facility intended to help people who are either homeless or addicted to drugs or alcohol get back to work. Some of the donated pieces will go to furnish the center and other facilities, while others will be sold to raise funds to help cover its operating costs.
This project is especially significant for the charity now, when the Salvation Army has seen fewer donations in the last few years due to the economic downturn. However, the reduction in giving isn’t necessarily for the reasons one would assume.
“I wouldn’t say that people are less generous,” said Rader. “I would say that the competition, especially for clothing, has really heated up.”
According to Rader, a lot of the clothing collection boxes around are not really collecting the clothes for charity; instead, for-profit companies pay the charities a royalty for the right to use their names on the box. The “harvested” clothes are then sold. This kind of competition has taken a lot of clothing donations away from The Salvation Army, said Rader; also, in his opinion, the popularity of websites like eBay and Craigslist have provided people with ways of getting rid of their old furniture besides donation.
Nevertheless, the massive furniture donation is a step in the right direction. Parziale noted that The Advance Group is currently planning to facilitate more donations for The Salvation Army in the future, so more is on the way. While the arrangements for the project were made back in the summer, the completion of the project just happened to line up with the beginning of the holiday season, the time of giving.
“It’s always a good feeling to give back, but especially during the holiday season, when some don’t have others to support them,” said Colacicco.
Parziale agreed. “It’s just nice to come up with a program, and see it through and see it work, and see the benefit that it provides to an organization like the Salvation Army; knowing that it’s going to a good cause.”
“I guess during the holiday season, you want people to have joy: if you can bring that joy, you feel joyful yourself,” said Parisi.
Residents at the rehabilitation center get to be a part of the holiday spirit as well: during the holiday season, the residents help receive and process the flood of donations themselves.
Moving forward, The Inn at Fox Hollow will host its second annual Toys for Tots program on Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. While it’s open to the public, attendees are asked to please bring a new, unwrapped toy for donation. There will be activities for children, desserts, Christmas Carols, and photo opportunities with Santa. Last year’s event collected over 500 toys, and event organizers are hoping to top that figure this year.
As for the Salvation Army, those anticipating holiday gifts are encouraged to clean some of their old clothes out of the closet and donate them; all the better to make room for the new arrivals. Contact the Hempstead Adult Relocation Center (194 Front Street, Hempstead) at 481-7600 to donate clothes and furniture.
For more information about how The Advance Group’s Sustainable Move program works and how it can positively impact businesses and nonprofit organizations and charities, visit www.SustainableMove.com.