Good News: Napkin fundraiser helping girls in India

Good News: Napkin fundraiser helping girls in India

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Two Dallas-based companies met in New York, started a partnership in Savannah, and are helping improve education for girls in India.

When diners are done using their napkins, the real work is just getting started.

“We’re trying to combat that gender inequality by creating a profitable business that can transfer profits and build schools for girls,” said Eric Katzenberger, Bloom & Give.

That’s an ambitious goal for table settings, but it’s the one being pursued at the Alida Hotel, through the use of hand-loomed cotton napkins in their Rhett restaurant. The napkins are manufactured by Dallas-based Bloom & Give, and the company is using a percentage of profits to improved education possibilities for girls in India.

“School is the best way for girls in the developing world to escape the cycle of early pregnancy, teenage marriage. It’s very personal. I also have a daughter, a teenage daughter, and my partner, Maddou, has two daughters, so when we went back to India after being gone for several years, you realize that things are actually a lot worse,” said Partha Raghunathan, Bloom & Give, Co-Founder. “Because you have this newfound awareness living in America, you understand that education is a right, and a lot of girls in India still don’t have it.”

The Rhett is one of 600 stores and restaurants nationwide either using or selling Bloom & Give textiles in a campaign that has already resulted in four schools being built in India.

“Just knowing that we are contributing just the small amount that we are, we’re in a win-win situation,” said Suzette Heilman, Rhett, Assistant Manager.

While diners appreciate a higher-quality product here, Raghunathan has noticed the impact the larger project has already had on trips back to India.

“You see the transformation in their confidence in the way they answer your questions. I know we’ve already succeeded.”

The cotton napkins are replaced after 10 washings and recycled for use in other products. The Alida has placed six orders since opening last year.

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