For the fourth year in a row, NBAA’s Schedulers and Dispatchers Conference has given back to its host city in the form of its “Pay It Forward” charity clothing drive. Starting with the 2011 at the conference in Savannah, the S&D advisory council requested that attendees bring “gently used” business attire to donate to disadvantaged people in the community. Through charity organizations such as Dress for Success, that clothing is distributed to individuals who need attire for business interviews.
At the Savannah show, Pay it Forward collected 64 garments, and that number has grown each year. This year the beneficiaries are Dress for Success’ New Orleans chapter (for women’s garments), and Volunteers of America (for menswear). “The two different organizations are helping to provide clothing for individuals who need assistance in attire for business interviews,” said Debbi Laux, a member of the advisory council for Schedulers and Dispatchers and chair of the Pay it Forward campaign. “If they get the job then they have other opportunities for clothes for the job they have acquired.”
As the show closed, approximately 525 pieces of clothing were collected, including 250 new blouses donated by Dave Bannerton of Shirtboy. Others, such as FirstEnergy, chose to provide monetary support instead. The Ohio-based diversified energy provider made a $1,000 donation to the campaign, part of the more than $1,500 collected at this year’s gathering, which will be used in New Orleans for the non-clothing needs of the charities.
While all conventions help the economy of their host cities, Laux believes the contributions made by the S&D community add a more personal touch. “To be able to leave something for the people, the actual folks who are in need here is something that not everyone does when they have a conference,” she told AIN.
“It’s very very nice,” said Midge Donald, executive director of Dress for Success New Orleans. “We get a lot of contributions, but for a group across the country to bring clothing here is unique.” Her organization provides women, many of whom are single mothers, with job training and résumé writing assistance. “When they are job ready we give them clothing to go for an interview,” she noted. “We kind of believe it not only helps a woman when she gets a job but it also helps her whole family and it changes the cycle of poverty.”
“We’re trying to make sure that we pay it forward,” added Laux. “Hopefully we’ll be helping them get a job. As those people get jobs maybe they’ll be able to pay it forward as the days go forward.”