Kurt Lucero, owner of The Cleanery, sees a lot of clothes, blankets and jackets every day, and last year he decided to take these wares in a new direction. In November of 2010 he joined Albuquerque Rescue Mission in collecting clothes for the homeless, including items abandoned at the dry cleaner as well as those donated by customers.
“It's a win-win-win situation.” he says. “ARM gets help for the less fortunate, we get to purge our storerooms, and customers feel good about themselves.”
Lucero initially asked for donations along the dry cleaning route and found many customers were eager to contribute. In early July he started accepting any items for ARM's back to school drive at The Cleanery's three locations throughout the city. The drive collects backpacks, pencils, pens, notebooks and other items for homeless children who cannot afford school supplies. In addition to The Cleanery, donations can be dropped off at the Albuquerque Rescue Mission at 525 Second Street SW.
Lucero says he collected three full boxes of school supplies for the drive earlier today. He does not charge for donation pick-up.
“Customers are coming out of the blue, it's totally surprised us,” he says. “It's really snowballed and makes us feel good that we're making a difference.”
The Cleanery has received clothing donations of all sizes and types, including business attire that ARM distributes to homeless people in search of jobs. When the business receives clothing donations, it cleans and presses everything before handing it over to ARM. The business is New Mexico's only dry cleaner certified by the Green Business Bureau, which means it uses eco-friendly technology and recycles hangers, garment bags and paper goods.
ARM is a Christian missionary for Albuquerque's homeless, an estimated 6,000 of which are children. On Aug. 6, ARM is hosting an event to distribute the school supplies they have collected since June. The event takes place at the Albuquerque Rescue Mission from 12 to 3 p.m.