Soaping for charity

Gifts in kind as well as pro-bono work take various forms and are a part of a long tradition in the hotel industry. The industry's national association the AH&LA leads the way with its charitable giving via its fund raising affiliate, the AH&LEF.  The major companies do their bit as well with programs from Marriott and Hilton including the outstanding foundation set up in the name of Conrad Hilton. A couple of years ago the latter got a boost from the whopping donation of $1.2 billion promised by Conrad Hilton's son, Barron Hilton. However, initiatives at the individual and grass roots level tend to attract far more attention and arguably has a greater impact.

An Atlanta based Derreck Kayongo, originally from Uganda has set about what seems to be a relatively simple yet unique effort to gather used soap bars from area hotels for shipment to his home country with a view to promoting hygiene amongst the poor in refugee camps in Africa. Thus far over 40 Atlanta based hotels including those at the very top of the hotel pyramid such as the Ritz Carlton have agreed to collect used soaps for Mr. Kayongo, a worker for the charitable organization, CARE. Mr. Kayongo says that "The soap will be shipped by freighter to Kenya and
trucked to his native Uganda, where it will be sterilized and reshaped into new
bars for distribution at refugee camps where soap is scarce.
Reprocessing the soap will (also) create jobs in Africa for local workers."

Given soap's potential to save lives in those parts of the world it is particularly laudable venture. Also in other parts of the world some notable initiatives from the hotel industry include one in the UK entitled Small Change Big Difference which collected over a $1m in the last five years for a range of charities.

Along similar lines, the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Malta has just been recognized as the most philanthropic hotel in the world – a lofty title – by the Preferred Hotel Group for its program called GIFTTS (Great Initiatives for Today's (Tomorrow's) Society) "created to recognize exceptional actions on the part of
member hotels and employees in the three areas of philanthropy,
environment and community to encourage best practices".

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.