By LINDA CHION KENNEY
In her mission to help small businesses in her community grow and prosper, Elena Westrop serves as both an ambassador and board member for the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce.
In her quest to advance her own business, Westrop is district manager for the Florida division of Charity Clothing Pickup, a company founded in Texas by her father and two other families. The “collecting clothing for a cause” business, with operations also in Missouri, Louisiana and Ohio, partners with area nonprofits seeking to raise money on an ongoing basis.
Putting the two stories together, it’s a no-brainer that Charity Clothing Pickup is a sponsor for the 29th annual GRCC Charity Golf Tournament, scheduled to run 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., April 1, at Summerfield Crossings Golf Club in Riverview, at 13050 Summerfield Blvd.
With sponsorship, hole sponsorship, golfer, vendor and volunteer spots still open, “participation is a great way to get your business recognized,” Westrop said, in an interview earlier this week.
The long-running golf tournament “is also a good community event,” Westrop said, noting as well the Brian Hindman Electric Ball Drop, scheduled for 12:30 p.m., before the 1 p.m. shotgun start. “It’s happening on April Fool’s Day, so we’ll be playing off that a little bit as well for some fun.”
It’s no joke, though, how quick a business can grow with the right connections, and that’s the story behind Westrop’s success running a business that raises money for nonprofit organizations through the donations of used clothing.
Partnering 501(c)(3) nonprofits receive self-contained boxes, identified by their organization logos. They’re placed at locations arranged for by the nonprofit’s representatives. Charity Clothing Pickup arranges for the bags of clothing to be picked up on a weekly basis.
The company’s thrift store partner purchases the collected donations, which, in turn, “helps us cover our overhead and allows for the nonprofit partnerships,” Westrop said. “Once we service the boxes, the driver who picks them up does a bag count, and the charity gets money based on each bag collected.”
Kitchen-sized bags are the perfect fit, Westrop said, filled with “gently used men’s, women’s and children clothing.”
Charity Clothing Pickup partners as well with larger national nonprofits, as with drop boxes and door-to-door pickups for American Red Cross and Paralyzed Veterans of America.
“We expanded the drop-box business about 10 years ago to help smaller nonprofits that are local,” Westrop said. Among the participating nonprofits are the Riverview Woman’s Club, Experience Autism Alliance, Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview, and FishHawk Spartan Football and Cheerleading.
A full list of participating nonprofits and drop-box locations is available online, at www.charityclothingpickup.com/. Click “Florida” to schedule a home pickup, to find drop-box and donation locations, and to register for a clothing drive.
Westrop said she decided to join the business after working as a manager in the restaurant business and was tired of night, weekend and holiday hours.
“I went and paid my penance with five long, cold winters in St. Louis,” before being able to open the market in Florida, with warehouses now in Orlando and Tampa, Westrop said.
Here now, with 18 years in the business, “We’re always looking to partner with more nonprofits,” Westrop said. “It’s an ongoing fundraiser at no cost to the nonprofits. We have boxes that help promote school, churches and more.”
Again, nonprofits exempt from federal taxes can participate, with donations involving “anything that can be worn on your body, including shoes and accessories,” Westrop said. “We do at times take smaller household items, but we specialize in clothing.”
The service, on behalf of designated nonprofits, includes, as well, pickups for items related to downsizing and household moves. “Bagged or boxed items, we’ll pick it up at the residence,” Westrop said, “with proceeds going to the designated nonprofit.”
As for her work passion, Westrop said she “loves being able to help people on a local level who otherwise wouldn’t have the money coming in to support their causes.”
“The nonprofits like that our service is at no cost to them. They don’t have to put forth much effort and there’s no limit to how many drop boxes they can place,” Westrop said. “It takes about two months for the box to get established, and our hope is that per location, each box collects 15 bags per week.”
For more, visit www.clothingpickupflorida.com/, call 813-882-8888 or email Westrop at email@example.com/.
For more on the April 1 GRCC golf tournament at Summerfield Crossings Golf Club in Riverview, visit www.riverviewchamber.com or call 813-234-5944.