Keene, New Hampshire, is a small metropolis. Sufficiently small, maybe, that you just’ve by no means heard of it. Situated two hours outdoors of Boston, it’s the seat of Cheshire County and residential to round 23,000 folks. However extra notably to these within the toy business, Keene can be residence to Douglas, an organization recognized for making smooth plush toys that line the cabinets of specialty shops nationwide.
Douglas could also be on the smaller facet within the toy house, with about 55 workers whole, however that hasn’t stopped the corporate from discovering methods to present again to the city through which it’s primarily based. The plush producer juggles a wide range of initiatives that, in line with proprietor Scott Clarke, present support throughout three distinct areas.
One in all these areas is the humanities, because of Clarke’s private historical past and fervour for efficiency. The corporate has supported music on the Keene-based King State Faculty, for instance, and helped fund renovations of a neighborhood venue referred to as The Colonial Theatre.
The second aide space? Serving to animals. “As a result of we make [plush] animals, it appeared like a pure connection,” Clarke explains. Over time, this has manifested as a powerful relationship with the native Humane Society.
The third and ultimate space the place Douglas concentrates its charitable efforts is probably the most vital, and maybe the obvious, of the three: serving to youngsters. The corporate donates each money and its plush toys to assist youngsters, particularly these experiencing starvation. This contains an annual donation of about $30,000 to the United Method, plus an occasion referred to as “Good Pals.”
This holiday-time fundraiser brings collectively three native companies: Douglas, The Financial savings Financial institution of Walpole, and radio station 103.7 KNE-FM. Every year, Douglas donates plush toys to the financial institution, which financial institution clients can buy for a $10 donation. The radio station advertises the continuing fundraiser, and the entire proceeds go to 2 native, hunger-relief charities referred to as Feeding Tiny Tummies and M.U.C.H. (Monadnock Understands Childhood Starvation). In 2021, this program raised $26,000, whereas the grand whole elevated to $36,000 final yr.
And, in line with Clarke, the Good Pals giving usually goes additional. “The half that’s even higher is that you just get a twofer on this as a result of Financial savings Financial institution of Walpole has numerous Toys for Tots places,” he says. “So folks would are available and donate $10 to the charity after which put the toy within the Toys for Tots [bin], and also you’ve acquired a double winner.”
The entire group at Douglas additionally will get concerned with giving again, particularly as members of the Keene group themselves. For instance, Clarke says the workers took a visit to the native meals financial institution to see the way it features and the place a few of Douglas’ United Method donation funds go.
Many of those charitable works are documented on a web page of the corporate web site, titled “Douglas Does Good.” However that web page has no hint of the ultimate, deeply heartwarming donation that Clarke describes. Douglas, he says, has linked with these within the authorized system, in addition to native police and fireplace departments, to donate plush toys for teenagers who’ve had traumatic experiences.
“[Responders] attempt to deliver one thing that’s calming and soothing to the kid. And that connection, our product is true there for that,” Clarke says. “And a part of why we’re so profitable right this moment is as a result of folks have that emotional connection, and so they need the safety that stuffed animals give them.”
Total, whereas Clarke says Douglas’ donations aren’t as sizable as these of a bigger company, he is aware of that staying native is what issues. He encourages different small toy firms to comply with go well with.
“I imply, you’ll be able to ship cash to numerous completely different organizations within the U.S., however in case you give regionally, you’re making an actual affect in your individual group,” he explains. “And I believe that’s how folks can be taught to make connections of their communities and in addition assist their enterprise model be recognized. You’re on the market giving and attempting to share with folks that you just care about.”
A model of this text was initially printed within the 2023 Classics & Specialty Situation of The Toy E-book. Click here to learn the complete concern! Need to obtain The Toy E-book in print? Click here for subscription choices!