Although the pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives, it has especially made life more difficult for those who are homeless.
When Green Bay, WI, resident Joan Tadisch could no longer purchase vinyl as a result of COVID-19 to create her tote bags filled with essentials for those in need, furniture and architectural wall solutions manufacturer KI knew it was time to step up.
Before the pandemic began, Tadisch, along with the Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter of Cru Inner City, an interdenominational Christian ministry, would produce the donated tote bags by using purchased end rolls of vinyl from KI’s outlet store. The store closed due to the COVID-19 lockdown, so she reached out to the KI team, whose headquarters are in Green Bay.
“When we heard Joan’s story, the vinyl donation was a no-brainer,” KI CEO Brian Krenke says. “We sell excess upholstery at a fairly inexpensive price and knew that Joan was having a tough time finding fabric, due to store closures and growing demand for handsewn masks. As a team, we deeply value supporting our community, and it immediately felt right to contribute where we could.”
With the company’s donated remnants of vinyl, Tadisch has hand-sewn and donated more than 320 tote bags to Cru Inner City’s Minneapolis/St. Paul location. Before distributing the tote bags, Cru Inner City fills them with essentials including a blanket, gloves, scarf, socks, toothbrush and soap. Because KI’s vinyl is durable and waterproof, the totes keep an individual’s belongings dry, even in rainy or snowy weather.
The donation aligns with KI’s “Changing Lives One Chair at a Time” initiative, which focuses on giving back to move a community forward.
“KI’s ‘Changing Lives One Chair at a Time’ initiative is about recognizing that our impact goes far beyond the furniture we manufacture,” Krenke explains. “Our work sustains families and communities and can help make the world a better place.”
Each year, the company continuously acts on that mantra through various donations and charitable efforts.
“One of our cornerstone charitable initiatives is the Bellin Run, a 10-kilometer race here in Green Bay, for which KI is a repeat sponsor,” Krenke shares. “Last year, the event had more than 8,500 participants, including nearly 80 KI employees. The Run raises money for Bellin College, a renowned institute of higher learning in Green Bay that trains people for careers in nursing and other healthcare professions.”
Krenke adds that KI also donates to the American Cancer Society, the United Way of Brown County and Manitowoc County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin, and various community health charities.
“At KI, we’ve made empathy a cultural priority,” he notes. “We have long been committed to helping our neighbors, in good times and in bad times. There’s always something that each and every one of us can do, whether it’s a monetary donation, an in-kind donation, or even the gift of time to a cause, a friend or a fellow member of the community.”
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