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Sunderland business donation brings benefit to Kenyan community

18 December 2007

A Sunderland business has put thousands of its old uniforms to good use by donating them to one of Kenya’s poorest communities.

People and property business, Gentoo, has donated its old uniforms to World Emergency Relief (WER) following a major rebranding exercise in June. On 14 December, the 3,720 items were loaded onto a container by an army of passionate volunteer Gentoo staff, who had also washed and packed the clothing. The goods are due to arrive in Nairobi by the end of January 2008.

The idea came about after a member of Gentoo’s Green Team wanted to think of a new use for the uniforms previously used by the Group’s electricians and plumbers.

Sustainability Project Officer for Gentoo Green, Michelle Trewglown, explains: “It just seemed such a waste to throw away over 4,000 uniforms so I suggested to the Green Team that perhaps we should look for an alternative – we all agreed that WER seemed to be doing some fantastic work, and with the support of my colleagues and the Group, I’m delighted we have been able to contribute to that.”

The donation will be delivered to the Kenyan Christian Industrial Training Institute (KCITI), a large vocational not-for-profit college, which is a partner of WER in Kenya. KCITI will then distribute to its students and the local Mathare Slum, an impoverished community with 750,000 residents.

Alex Haxton, Director of Operations for WER, was also there to help the uniforms be loaded onto the container. He said: “ We are thrilled to partner with Gentoo and congratulate them on thinking beyond normal recycling and green parameters. This donation will be a real practical blessing to students in the college and many thousands of residents of the Mathare Township. Every year WER ships around 1000 tons of recyclable products which otherwise we often end up in land fill. Thank you to Gentoo for this support.”

This initiative forms part of the Group’s wider environmental strategy, the focus of the Gentoo Green arm of the business, which has recently been awarded the prestigious Green Apple Environmental Award, CIH UK housing award and a Constructing Excellence award for their partnership with another registered social landlord.

Sally Hancox, Director of Gentoo Green, was delighted to be able to support WER’s international efforts: “At Gentoo, we recognise that we have a responsibility to give the planet a little something back and we were happy to be able to follow through on such a fantastic idea from a member of staff – their dedication shone through, with the time and effort they have contributed simply astounding.

“This is our first international project but we are hoping to expand on our green agenda through further initiatives like this one and will continue to encourage staff to come up with new ideas – no matter how challenging they may seem.”

Photos:
L: Alex Haxton, Director of Operations for WER, with Michelle Trewglown, Sustainability Project Officer for Gentoo Green.
R: The Gentoo and WER teams helped load the container for shipment to Kenya.



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