DownEast Retailer Launches Campaign to Make the CHOICE to End Poverty

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A new partnership with CHOICE, DownEast Home & Clothing launches a new marketing initiative, Make the CHOICE to End Poverty.

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On a personal level, extreme poverty is no longer a concept. It lives in the names and faces and very real lives of the men, women, and children in the village we’ve ‘adopted.’
- DownEast COO Rich Israelsen

DownEast Home & Clothing today announced the launch of a new marketing initiative, Make the CHOICE to End Poverty, benefitting CHOICE Humanitarian, a strategic nonprofit working in rural villages in developing countries. The campaign grew out of a partnership between DownEast employees and CHOICE that began in 2009.

The Make the CHOICE campaign features a 30-day,“$5 for $5” promotion in which customers who donate $5 or more to CHOICE Humanitarian receive a $5 coupon off their next purchase of $35 or more of apparel or home furnishings. Proceeds will help CHOICE and DownEast build a school in Guatemala this June. The promotion runs May 16 through June 18, 2011. During the same timeframe, those interested in taking a more active role in CHOICE’s international outreach can register at its website for a chance to take part in an actual expedition. The experience is valued at over $2,000.

In 2010, a group of DownEast employees, along with DownEast COO Rich Israelsen, traveled with CHOICE Humanitarian to the small Chirixquitzac village in Guatemala, where they spent a week working alongside villagers digging trenches to help build the community’s first system to provide clean drinking water. This June, a second DownEast group will travel with CHOICE to help build the village’s first elementary school.

According to Israelsen, “The initial purpose of our first trip to Guatemala was to provide a team building experience, but the partnership with CHOICE has become much more. On a personal level, extreme poverty is no longer a concept. It lives in the names and faces and very real lives of the men, women, and children in the village we’ve ‘adopted.’

“From a business perspective, our partnership has not only created team building opportunities, but has also made fulfilling our mission as an organization more meaningful. The better we are at providing our customers with quality merchandise at affordable prices, the better positioned we are to help our friends in Guatemala. Consumers these days understand the value of paying it forward. They want to know that where they spend their money is making a difference in the world. Inviting our customers to join in just seemed the natural next step.”

Through its corporate matching program, DownEast employees have contributed more than $60,000 to CHOICE Humanitarian since 2009 and employees remain in contact with “their” village. DownEast employees also played a key part in helping to enroll 100 percent of the village women in adult literacy classes.

According to CHOICE CEO Leah Barker, “We’re excited about our continuing partnership with the generous people of DownEast. Their willingness to reach out to customers to tell them about our work and encourage their involvement reflects the spirit of their entire organization.”

Israelsen also said that its “$5 for $5” promotion will be the first of several DownEast campaigns under the “Make the CHOICE to End Poverty” initiative. “There are so many ways for people to get involved,” he said.

Photos and stories from the expedition will be shared on the DownEast by Design and At Home with DownEast Home blogs.

Regarding the chance to win a spot on an actual CHOICE expedition, Barker described it as an exciting, life-changing experience. “As we say to our volunteers – say goodbye to your comfort zone and get ready to love every minute of it, knowing that you’re part of an amazing effort that’s stamping out poverty in villages from the tops of the Andes to the jungles of Africa.”

Those interested in entering to win the grand prize giveaway of one CHOICE expedition should visit The winner will be notified by June 30, 2011, and can select from planned expeditions in the remainder of 2011 or 2012. All expeditions currently scheduled are listed on the CHOICE website. The trip does not include airfare.

About DownEast Home & Clothing
Founded in 1991 and still family owned, DownEast Home & Clothing ( is a leader in stylish and affordable apparel, home furnishings and accessories. The company operates nationally with its Basics line via its online store in addition to 43 retail locations throughout the West including Utah, Colorado, California, Idaho, Arizona, Washington, Nevada and Wyoming.

About CHOICE Humanitarian
CHOICE Humanitarian – “The Center for Humanitarian Outreach and Inter-Cultural Exchange,” is a strategic non-governmental agency (NGO) currently working in five countries: Kenya, Nepal, Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico. Its overriding goal is to end extreme poverty and improve quality of life through a bottom-up, self-developing village-centered approach. For additional information, please visit

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Kathy Cabrera
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