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4 Design-centric Charities to Support this Upcoming Holiday Season

It's never too early to start planning your showroom's holiday open house. As you start planning, consider using your resources and skills to help these design-centric charities in need.

Alison Martin
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Based on the Showroom of the Year entries we receive every year, we know our readers are a charitable bunch. Each year, we hear stories from showrooms working to make their local communities better, so we looked for ways to help lighting and home furnishings retailers give back using their design skills and resources.

As you start thinking about this year’s holiday open house or fundraiser, consider supporting one of these design-centric charities that could use your products, skills and patronage.

Alpha Workshops

What it is: Founded in 1995, New York-based Alpha Workshops aims to “provide a new model of economic development for people living with HIV+/AIDS or other disabilities.” The nonprofit is both a state-certified school of the decorative arts and a studio that helps fund the school. Alpha trains its students in the decorative arts, helping them sell their creations through their studio and build a sustainable career.

What’s rewarding about working with Alpha: Jamie Drake, Chair of Alpha Workshops and Principal at Drake/Anderson Design, says seeing the products that Alpha students create in the studio gives him great joy. “I’m always stunned,” he says, “and I discover new and beautiful work.” Drake uses at least one Alpha product in each of his designed projects at his Manhattan-based firm.

How to help: If you’re local, Drake recommends hosting an event for Alpha. If you live farther away, he suggests commissioning products from the studio to give as gifts to clients. 

Philanthropy by Design

What it is: Philanthropy By Design, the San Francisco Bay area-based nonprofit, renovates the interiors of community service organizations by reworking layouts, installing new floors, painting and furnishing rooms to meet the organization’s needs. Notable projects include Ann Martin Children’s Center, Family Service Agency of San Francisco and South of Market Health Center, to name a few.

What’s rewarding about working with PBD: For Kathy Lassen-Hahne, the Marketing & PR Chair, “seeing the hope and happiness our work has done” and using her skills to make a difference means the most.

How to help: PBD welcomes volunteers, so if you’re in the Bay area, you can volunteer your skills or donate products. If you live farther away or cannot ship product, hold a raffle at your showroom during your holiday open house and donate the funds to PBD.

Savvy Giving By Design

What it is: Savvy Giving By Design helps children facing a medical crisis and their families by “transforming the interior spaces of their homes at no cost to them.” Based in San Diego County and with chapters all over the U.S., this nonprofit helps sick and disabled children by redesigning their bedrooms, refreshing them with new products and materials and reconfiguring them to meet the children’s physical needs. 

What’s rewarding about working with Savvy Giving: As President and founder, Susan Wintersteen has seen the power a bedroom transformation can have on a child, and it never fails to move her as the children explore their new rooms and get excited. “You see them kind of come out of their shell more.”

If you attended the Design Bloggers Conference last March, then you probably heard Wintersteen's presentation and saw the video of the work Savvy Given has done for the children it serves. There wasn't a dry eye in that conference room, that's for sure.

How to help: Some of the biggest costs come from putting in new flooring and painting the walls. Hosting a holiday fundraiser would go along way to help children in need. 

Humble Design

What is it: Humble Design furnishes empty homes for individuals, families and veterans who were previously homeless or living in abuse shelters. Started in 2009 in Detroit, Humble Design relies on donated goods and furnishings to turn cold homes into warm ones and help people live with dignity and happiness.

What’s rewarding about working with Humble Design: Judging by the organization’s website photos and videos of families seeing their homes for the first time, it has to be knowing that the recipients now have a safe place to build their lives.

How to help: While monetary and product donations are welcome, you can also sponsor a room for an upcoming project. If you’re hosting an open house, choose a theme (girl’s room, boy’s room, baby’s room, etc.), decide on the design (superheroes, Hello Kitty, stars and moons) and ask your guests to bring one item to decorate. For questions, email Operations Director Jennifer Dutch at jennifer@humbledesign.org.

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