Archive for October, 2010

The Framing Hope Product Donation Program: Partnering Home Depot stores with Local Non Profit Organizations

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

One of the most asked questions we get as a company refers to returned, unsold or discontinued products…do we just throw all those perfectly good products away? Do they go back to the vendor?  Before 2008, unfortunately the answer to both of those questions was “yes.”  We either threw away unsold or discontinued products or shipped them back to the vendor.  From a business perspective, and certainly not from an employee morale or environmental perspective, neither of those were really good options.  Associates were consistently sending emails to the company’s management asking why we weren’t donating these products to local community organizations that could really use them.  They were right, of course.

As a result, in 2008 we launched the Framing Hope Product Donation Program, which is a collaborative effort between The Home Depot®, The Hope Depot Foundation and the nonprofit, Gifts In Kind International. Since the program began, $75 million in products from more than 1,000 Home Depot stores have been donated to more than 1,200 nonprofit partners, resulting in the diversion of 35,000 tons of usable product from landfills.

Here’s how it works:

–  Local Home Depot stores are matched with nonprofits in their communities.  The nonprofits have to be a 501(c)(3) organization and they must go through an intense vetting process to determine their eligibility. 

–  The nonprofits must have the capacity to pick up a wide variety of donated products and building supplies on a weekly basis.  The deal is that the store will give them everything they have to give and the nonprofit has to take whatever that may be.  This week, the store may give them bathroom fixtures, hammers and an assortment of rugs.  Next week it could be doors, windows and lumber.

–  The nonprofits set up a time to come to the store on a weekly basis to pick up the products.  They have to have their own transportation to haul the product away.

Each week more than 1,200 nonprofit organizations across the country drive away from more than 1,000 Home Depot stores with products they can use to support their services.  We find that the best recipients for the products are organizations with housing units to maintain.  For instance, Atlanta Union Mission has more than 1,000 beds in various shelters for the homeless and substance-addicted.  Home Depot donations have helped the mission renovate the dormitories at The Potter’s House, a working farm outside Athens, Georgia that houses about 180 men in long-term, intensive care for chemical addiction.  Read more about Framing Hope and the Atlanta Union Mission.

The program has been so successful that we wanted a way to extend the opportunity to smaller nonprofits that might not be able to do the pickup from the stores themselves and might not have the capacity to absorb all of the donated products every week.  Last year, we launched the Framing Hope Warehouse Strategy which partners Home Depot stores with large nonprofit organizations that have the logistical capability to redistribute the products to a wide range of smaller nonprofit organizations. Gifts in Kind International continues to be an amazing partner with us in this effort.

We currently have two Framing Hope warehouses in operation.  The warehouse in Buffalo, N.Y. was the first to open last year, and just last week we opened our second warehouse in Los Angeles County.  In Buffalo, we operate the warehouse in conjunction with WNY Americorps.  Read more about this warehouse in Buffalo Business First. In Los Angeles County, the warehouse is operated with Save the Children

I am so proud of the work that everyone involved in the Framing Hope program does to make it successful, from the store associates who first suggested the idea and who now help the nonprofits each week to the staff at Gifts in Kind International who manage the program on a daily basis.  It’s a significant effort that’s improving the lives of our fellow citizens, keeping landfills clear of unnecessary waste and helping us from a business perspective. The Framing Hope Product Donation Program is the definition of the triple bottom line! 

If you know of a nonprofit organization that might be interested in participating in the Framing Hope Program, please share this link with them:

Habitat, Mayor Tackle Tough Issues in Minneapolis

Friday, October 8th, 2010

This has been an exciting and busy week for Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), one of our national partners, as it celebrated World Habitat Day on Monday and the 27th annual Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project with projects throughout the country that built, repaired and rehabilitated 86 homes.  HFHI and the Carters culminated the week in Minneapolis, with former Vice President Walter Mondale and Mayor R.T. Rybek all swinging hammers to help families in the Hawthorne neighborhood.

hawthorne_ecovillageWe were very excited to have the project in an area we at The Home Depot Foundation know well.  The Foundation has contributed $500,000 to the development of the Hawthorne Eco-Village neighborhood, which is being jointly developed by the City of Minneapolis, Project for Pride in Living (PPL) and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.  The Hawthorne Eco-Village is a unique, five-year, multi-phase project to revitalize a four block area that has seen high crime rates, too many vacant and abandoned homes and too little investment for a very long time.  The first time I visited the site, in fact, a neighbor asked me what was going on, saying she knew something was happening because the police had been patrolling and she hadn’t hear gunfire during the night.  With Mayor Rybak’s leadership, we made a commitment to partner with the City and local nonprofit organizations to create a safer, healthier and more economically vibrant community in the Hawthorne neighborhood.   Now, having had the spotlight of the City’s Building Inspection Department and Problem Property Unit, as well as the police department, trained on the area, enormous progress has been made. Crime is down, some homes have been renovated and sold while energy audits and retrofits have been conducted on others.  In addition to building new homes to meet LEED standards, work will also include installation of a solar panel on a high profile business, a tree nursery, rain gardens and a community garden.  The City is also considering installing a new light rail line to service the area.  Throughout our time working in Hawthorne we have been immensely appreciative of the vision Mayor Rybak has and his dedication to creating a more sustainable city.  In fact, we were so impressed with Minneapolis’ work to identify and implement sustainability principles that we recognized the city with one of our 2009 Awards of Excellence.  Learn more about the work and watch a video showing what’s going on in this half of the Twin Cities.

The homes built by President Carter, Mayor Rybak and Twin Cities Habitat this week are outstanding examples of how building healthy, efficient homes in sustainable neighborhoods can be a life-changer for families and cities alike.  The Hawthorne neighborhood is truly a demonstration that with a concentrated focus of resources and strong partnerships, transformation can occur in a relatively short period of time.   If you want to learn more about what’s going on in the neighborhood and what the neighbors are saying about it, the St. Paul Pioneer Press published a really informative article this week.

Congratulations to HFHI and the Hawthorne Eco-Village on a great week! (more…)

Trees Make Good Neighbors

Monday, October 4th, 2010

There’s finally a little nip in the air here in the South, and soon the leaves will start to show their gorgeous autumnal palette.  For me, that means football season, sweaters and fires for marshmellow roasting.  It’s also tree planting season and each year The Home Depot Foundation celebrates NeighborWoods Month with our outstanding nonprofit partner, the National Alliance for Community Trees (ACT).  Last year during NeighborWoods Month, ACT members organized over 700 volunteer events in 230 cities and engaged 24,000 volunteers to plant 36,000 trees.  That’s a lot of sweat and mulch, which resulted in healthier, safer neighborhoods through out the country.

I’ve written previously about the many economic benefits of trees, but I’d like to look at trees from a different vantage today and discuss the way trees impact our families and neighbors and the ways in which we interact with each other.  Sound strange?  I’m sure it does if you’ve not had the opportunity to think about the social and emotional benefits of trees.

tree plantingI’ll give you some data points in a minute, but ask that you think about planting a tree, and specifically, think about a time that you may have volunteered with a group of others to plant trees, maybe in a park or at a school or along a sidewalk.  (If you haven’t had this experience, check out the calendar of events scheduled for this year’s NeighborWoods Month!)  First, I know, it’s hard work to dig a hole wide enough to let the roots spread and thrive.  But, second, didn’t you have some fun?  Wasn’t it rewarding to arrive at a place that might have needed a little TLC and to leave seeing it improved?  Didn’t you enjoy smelling the freshly-turned earth, maybe watching a kid squeal as a worm squirmed around?  Didn’t you leave having spent time with someone you enjoyed?  Now the real test:  if you have walked or driven by that location once or even a hundred times since that day, have you checked to see how “your” tree is doing?  I bet you have, and so has everyone else who joined you that day.  You didn’t spend your time just planting a tree, you helped build a community that you – and your tree – are a part of.

In fact, scientists have shown that people who live in neighborhoods with more green spaces have stronger social ties with their neighbors.  This means that they know more of their neighbors, have more visits with them are more likely to support each other and to share resources.  This, in turn, means that they are more likely to watch what is going on on their streets, step in if a problem occurs and defend their neighborhoods.  I guess it just follows, then, that there are fewer incidents of vandalism, graffiti and litter in a community with trees than in their more barren areas.  In fact, that extends to all crime: there are fewer violent crimes in greener areas.

For many people going for a walk calms them when they are upset or stressed.  That’s one of those things we just know, right?  Well, scientists have done studies and found that if you take a walk in a natural setting after a stressful situation, your blood pressure and heart rate will decline as will your feelings of fear, anger and aggression.  Office workers with a view of trees and nature from their desks find their jobs more satisfying, are less frustrated and report better over all health.   Even if you do get sick, trees can help.  Hospital patients who have a view of nature recover faster from surgery and require less pain medication, so hospital have begun building gardens for patients and for staff who have demanding jobs.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to think maybe I haven’t appreciated the trees around me enough.  boardwalk2