Local company uses trade show platform to support children’s charity
Originally from The Morganton News Herald
NEW YORK — Most companies use trade shows to advertise products, but one local business has taken a different route, using such events as a way to support charities.
Kellex Seating, which operates a facility in Valdese, in November attended the Boutique Design New York event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and took the opportunity to raise money for Give Kids the World Village, with the cooperation of Crypton Fabric. In all, the effort raised more than $11,000 for the children’s charity.
Give Kids the World Village is a 79-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort located in Kissimmee, Florida, near many of central Florida’s most beloved attractions. Children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations, complete with accommodations in whimsical villas, along with transportation, donated attraction tickets, meals and more. Since 1986, Give Kids the World Village has welcomed more than 149,000 families from all 50 states and 76 countries.
Over the past several years, Kellex has worked with Give Kids the World Village to both donate and provide furnishings at cost for more than 100 villas at the village. The furniture used is specially designed for Give Kids the World using the organization’s colors. At the trade show in November, Kellex exhibited this special furniture, manufactured at its Valdese facility, to further knowledge of the Give Kids the World cause.
“We’ve been around Give Kids the World for a while,” said Kellex President Chris Rice. “Back in 2013, Kellex was selected as the company to work with Wyndham Vacation ownership to do an extreme makeover for 97 of the units at Give Kids the World. So, I was familiar with the village, being a resident of Florida for a while and also being there around the hospitality industry, which is what we serve. We were selected as the vendor to furnish these rooms. We donated quite a bit, about 97 rooms full of furniture as a co-op. All of our profits and everything were donated.
“This year, for the 30th anniversary, they (remodeled) another 27 of the units, so we got back involved with them earlier in the year. Kind of what the thought was that we have a wonderful opportunity to communicate about nonprofit organizations like Give Kids the World in New York or Las Vegas and some of the areas where we attend large shows. So, as we were talking through it here, more and more people we talk to want to know (about Give Kids the World). We thought New York would be a wonderful platform for us to utilize our space and our design and the feel of our booth to as much as anything bring awareness of what the village is and to bring others in our industry closer to the village.”
For each visitor to the exhibit who had their badge scanned, Kellex and Crypton together donated $20 to Give Kids the World Village. It’s not the first time Kellex has helped raise money at trade shows, as the company has helped raise funds for Susan G. Komen and Autism Speaks in the past.
“We wanted to bring folks to the booth to talk about (Give Kids the World) and bring awareness to it,” Rice said. “We wanted to give the little bit of the visual element that we could of the village. A few months back around August or September, a group from Kellex went down to the village to visit. They got to experience the feel of the village and talk to the president Pam (Landwirth) and some of their angels, which are their volunteers.
“So, the booth was designed to have those elements. We used the primary colors that they have as part of their logos and their village, and that’s what the furniture was designed around. We built the furniture on (Give Kids the World’s) behalf so they could use that furniture not just to bring folks to the booth and build awareness, but also so they could use it for fundraising throughout the year because it has their colors and deck labels. The furniture was built completely for them.
Give Kids the World had several key members of its staff on hand at the trade show to help spread awareness about the village and the purpose it serves.
“We brought people into the booth to talk about it and (Give Kids the World) had representatives on staff there to talk about it,” Rice said. “Their ‘mayor,’ which is a rabbit (mascot) named Clayton, was there and (Landwirth), their president, and in addition, (Give Kids the World Development Manager) Adrianne Philion was there. Folks that travel for the village actually were in our booth, so as folks came in, they could hand out pamphlets and talk to different visitors from around the country about what the village does.”
Rice said the event and the decision to fundraise was an opportunity to put things into perspective. Instead of focusing on something negative in the world or worry solely about the bottom line as a company, Kellex was able to support an organization that helps sick children, one that has become near and dear to the Kellex staff’s hearts.
“Our company as a group — we have about 300 associates — had an opportunity to do something on behalf Kellex for the village by building the furniture,” Rice. “It’s for families (with sick children) trying live like families … which is something we take for granted. The company got behind it and shrugged off everything else around us. … It brought a lot of happiness not just to our staff, but it brought a lot of happiness to the show.
“Normally, we go to a trade show like this and we promote Kellex products. I’d rather donate our time and efforts to instead of promoting or selling our furniture, promoting a great cause. We’re in the middle of it because our furniture represents the cause. … We do not build furniture just to go to shows anymore. I’d rather go for a good reason.”
Staff writer Justin Epley can be reached at email@example.com or 828-432-8943.