The Southern California Cleaners Association is proud to announce its participation in the annual Coats For Kids. Along with the Glendale Rotary Club and the Salvation Army, So Cal Cleaners Association was very happy with the success of this event. “It was 15 years ago that I spearheaded this project,” said Ray Rangwala, owner of Esteem Cleaners in Pasadena, California. Ray is a member of the Glendale Rotary Club of Glendale. “The Rotary was looking for a service project. I volunteered to be the Chairperson of the event. Since I was in the service business, it was natural to do something that involved dry cleaners. We contacted the Glendale School District and proposed the Coats For Kids project. The rest is history.”
There are 27 schools in the Glendale School District. Flyers go out to every student in the school district. The flyers give details about the event and tell when and where the coats will be available for pick up at no charge. The schools collect the coats and the dry cleaners that participate also have boxes in their call offices soliciting donations. The coats are picked up by Rotary members and taken to a single drop off point – the Salvation Army. From there, members of the So Cal Cleaners Association pick up the coats, clean them and bring them to the distribution site. This year, the distribution site was Horace Mann Elementary School in Glendale. “Not only do we clean the coats but some people donate other items as well (blankets, clothes, etc) and we will clean those items also. These are taken to the distribution site also,” Ray said.
This year, the coats were picked up October 26th and returned to Horace Mann Elementary School by October 30th. The cleaners who participated were Perfect Cleaners, Los Angeles; Pico Cleaners, Los Angeles; Bryan’s Cleaners, Pasadena and, of course, Esteem Cleaners, Pasadena. These cleaners fit this into their busy days. Whenever Ray asks, he is rarely turned down. “Some years we have various cleaners help out but these are my “go to” guys.” I asked David Suber, Perfect Cleaners, Los Angeles why he does this every year. “It feels good to help the community and the underprivileged. It is a way of giving back. My employees like to be involved and are happy when they know about this special project. Watching the kids and their parents pick up the coats always brings a big smile to my face.
The amount of items cleaned this year was less than last year, but still totaled about 1200-lbs. To date this program has cleaned over 30,000 pounds. That is something to be proud of, Ray!
The distribution day was October 31, 2015. As usual, there was a line waiting when the doors opened at 7:00am. “When the coats were donated, I noticed 2 jackets that were Hello Kitty. They were so cute and caught my eye. I thought what great jackets for some little girls. After they were cleaned, they looked brand new. Midway through the distribution day, two sisters screamed when they saw the Hello Kitty jackets, they tried them on and it was a good fit. The sisters were happy, the parents were happy and this warmed my heart. That is what this project is all about,” Ray grinned. The coats were all gone by 10:30 a.m.
Ray is a Director of the Southern California Cleaners Association as well as Director of the California Cleaners Association (CCA). Ray is involved in many other worthwhile causes. He also helps his fellow drycleaners whenever they need it. Ray Rangwala, you are a very special person. Thank you for doing this every year!