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NEW YORK — Fashion Delivers Charitable Trust, which has already begun processing and delivering donated products to hurricane disaster victims in the U.S., is set to expand its focus from domestic assistance to international relief efforts to help victims rebuild their lives with goods from the apparel and home furnishings industries.
The organization had its first board meeting on Wednesday at the offices of CIT Commercial Services here at 1211 Sixth Avenue. Among those in attendance were representatives from the Op Division of Warnaco Group, Sean Jean, Li & Fung, ENK International, Oxford Industries and Bill Blass Ltd.
The agenda included establishing committees to raise seed money for the balance of the year, formulating goals to raise funds to meet operating expenses next year and having groups liaise with firms regarding the donation of goods.
Haresh Tharani, chairman of Bill Blass, will work with former Leslie Fay chairman John Pomerantz, also a Fashion Delivers board member, on contacting women's apparel firms. Todd Kahn, representing board member Sean Combs and the firm Sean Jean, will work with men's wear companies. Ron Ventricelli, attending on behalf of board member Rick Darling of Li & Fung, will work with home goods manufacturers. Dick Baker, president of Op, will work with firms located on the West Coast.
Allan Ellinger of MMG Inc., and chairman of the Fashion Delivers board, said U.S. Customs is advising importers that the U.S. government has agreed to waive duties on certain categories of imported items consigned to charities helping victims.
A guest at the meeting was Roger Wilson, an entertainment executive and New Orleans native, who was among the first to experience a Fashion Delivers contribution.
"The need down there is unending. It is hard to explain how sad it is. They still haven't buried the dead, much less dealt with the living," Wilson told the attendees.
Now a resident of New York, he headed back to his former home on Friday for his third visit since Hurricane Katrina to help with relief efforts. Wilson said the one thing he's noticed is the "next day" cycle time regarding the quickness with which goods sent from the charitable foundation are distributed to the churches and schools in the area, instead of sitting in warehouses.