Charity Begins at Home
Laura Van Zeyl

As I assembled this year’s Showroom of the Year entries for judging (which just concluded), I was once again inspired by all of the generous ways that lighting retailers readily reach out and give back to their communities.

Habitat for Humanity and its ReStore locations are regular recipients of lighting products from our industry. For Accent Lighting in Lake Oswego, OR, these donations become an alternative to marking down fixtures when it’s time to update a display. As a result, Habitat often enjoys newer merchandise (sometimes less than a year old) and Accent’s store presentations stay fresh.

Actually participating as a team on a Habitat project can be a rewarding bonding experience for stores as well. Capitol Lighting, with locations in Florida and New Jersey, enhanced its Making Lives Brighter campaign with a hands-on volunteer effort. Similarly, Meletio Lighting & Electrical Supply in Dallas sent staff to help repair homes in Oklahoma that were damaged by tornadoes.

Lighting showrooms were like first responders in rebuild efforts following catastrophe — whether it was Hurricane Sandy or Colorado wildfires — providing plenty of time, talent and resources. Allowing deeper discounts for those affected helped folks get back on their feet. Taking it a step farther, The Lamp Outlet, Bono, AR, regularly offers services at no margin to worthy local causes. And Illuminations By Design, Littleton, CO, is involved with a Home Builders Foundation of Metro Denver project on a remodel for a family needing modifications for accessibility.

It warms my heart to hear about the good deeds gladly granted by conscientious small businesses. And I’m hoping to tap into that rampant altruism on a couple of causes close to home for me personally. Last year, I joined the Board for the H Foundation, the organization founded in part by Hortons Home Lighting, LaGrange, IL, that has raised millions of dollars for cancer research around its annual Goombay Bash. While this year’s event isn’t until Aug. 3, the organization is already seeking small contributions of at least $20.13 to be used as “seed money” to honor a loved one with a palm tree at the party.

My other annual fundraising is on behalf of March of Dimes for their work to prevent birth defects and prematurity. Next month will mark my seventh year walking in their March for Babies, which always happens on or around my son’s birthday – always an important milestone for me since he himself was born premature.

You’ve lit a fire for me to kick these efforts into a higher gear. Clearly you are just as adept at moving customers as you are at moving inventory. Kudos to all!

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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