Fashion Philanthropy: 5 Amazing Women Who Are Giving Back

These entrepreneurs make giving back an essential part of their companies (6 Photos)

Dawn Papandrea on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:17AM

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Christa Hagearty

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a Dawn Papandrea on Apr 12, 2011 at 1:54PM

The Company
Dependable Cleaners is a 65 year-old family owned and operated dry cleaning and laundry business in and around Boston, Massachusetts.

The Cause
This summer will be the 14th year that the company will run its "Read to Ride" program, in which children receive one entry to win a bike and helmet for each book they complete over the summer (bikes are given out weekly). "We've now had over 50,000 books that have been read through the programs," says Hagearty. And this year, they've expanded their outreach to even more schools and libraries to help get the word out.

In addition, Dependable Cleaners also offers a "Clean Suit Stimulus" program to help unemployed job seekers by cleaning three suits/dresses free of charge to help them prepare and look great for interviews.

Finally, the company is also a proud partner with the organization Dress for Success -- which provides professional attire and career counseling to struggling women -- by cleaning and pressing suits for Dress for Success Boston for free.

The Inspiration
"When I came into the company, one of the first things we did was work on our strategy, and create a long-term visionary plan," says Hagearty. "We were doing a lot of things for our community, but it wasn't coordinated," she explains.

That's when Hagearty decided she wanted to share her passion for reading with children, and launched the "Read to Ride" program in all 16 communities where her stores are located. "If you learn to love reading early on, it makes such a difference in your life. It opens your heart and mind to all different ways of thinking."

The Takeaway
If you're interested in giving back through your company, Hagearty suggests thinking it through first so you can make the most of your efforts. "Find something that's manageable for the business to continue to do," she says.

"If you're going to partner with a group, you want to see that they have a track record. Partnering with Dress for Success, making reading fun -- those are all initiatives in which we can make an impact!"

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