NORTH KINGSTOWN – Those in need around the state received a recent boost thanks to a collaboration between Ocean State Job Lot (OSJL) and the Rhode Island Foundation (RIF). Together, the two entities distributed $100,000 in OSJL gift cards to social service agencies around Rhode Island just in time for the holiday season.
“COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on our nation, with the greatest impact being on our already vulnerable populations,” said Marc Perlman, OSJL co-founder and CEO. “The Rhode Island Foundation has done incredible work to provide aid to thousands of families and individuals in need throughout our state, and we are happy to be able to support their efforts.”
The effort was increased by OSJL’s ability to offer gift cards to the Rhode Island Foundation at a discount of 35 percent. With this agreement, the non-profit organization funder was able to purchase 1,000 gift cards valued at $100 each for $65,000, a savings of $35,000.
“This contribution from Ocean State Job Lot allows our funds to go much further to help even more Rhode Islanders in need this holiday season,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “Job Lot’s vast assortment of merchandise will give recipients the flexibility to meet their individual needs, whether it be food, warm clothing or holiday gifts.”
Twenty social service agencies across the state that serve almost every community in Rhode Island recently received an allotment of gift cards and gift cards began to be distributed to clients ahead of Christmas Day after the organizations identified those most in need.
The Blackstone Valley Community Action Program, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Progreso Latino and Westbay Community Action are among the organizations that received an allotment.
The recent move from OSJL marks an ongoing effort by the company through its charitable arm, the Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation, to invest in and assist the local community, especially those most vulnerable, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year. In late March, OSJL contributed $250,000 toward a state program to acquire critical supplies needed in the fight against the novel coronavirus, including gloves, masks, disinfectants, sanitizers, eye protection and more from its vendors. OSJL utilized its business contacts and unique buying power to quickly and affordably source the items. The Rhode Island Foundation ultimately distributed $13 million worth of personal protective equipment to those fighting the pandemic on the frontlines from healthcare facilities to hospitals to first responders in the communities where an OSJL store is located. The effort is ongoing, as OSJL continues to purchase the equipment and donate it to hospitals and other medical facilities in the region.
Further, in April, OSJL established its “Mask Fabric for Free” campaign, which provided customers with the materials necessary to create homemade, cloth masks. Upon the program’s completion, OSJL had supplied enough fabric to create an estimated 1.8 million masks.
OSJL, founded in 1977, operates 144 retail stores throughout New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania with approximately 5,600 employees. Its annual sales are estimated at about $800 million. Its Charitable Foundation has supported numerous causes ranging from feeding the hungry to assisting the homeless to supporting veterans and military families and aiding animal rescue. OSJL is headquartered in the Quonset Point Business Park.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the state’s largest and most comprehensive funder of local nonprofit organizations. In 2019, the Foundation raised $47 million and awarded $56 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. For more information, visit refoundation.org.