Linens N Love volunteers donating 400 linens to local animal shelter in preparation the 2019 holiday season. Photo by Vivian Wang.
Valencia High School

Linens N Love: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

 

Have you ever stayed at a hotel and wondered why everything appears so much nicer than those in your home? How do all the towels, sheets and blankets look so new and feel so soft?

It turns out most of the hotel linens have a rather short lifespan of six months or less. As soon as there’s a slight perfection, they are destined to be thrown into the landfill because they don’t meet the hotel franchise’s quality standards.

Linens with a small pen mark or the slightest unremovable stain mean it’s headed for the trash pile. As it turns out, a typical hotel easily discards hundreds of linens every year.

For tens and thousands of hotel linens: is there life after being imperfect?

Founded in 2014, Linens N Love is a student-run nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting and donating to-be-discarded linens from hotels to local shelters, in the form of student-led deliveries and an educational tour of the receiving organization.

Throughout the past five years, Linens N Love has already donated nearly 15,000 linens to various local shelters, with our reach and extent ever-expanding.

Linens N Love’s volunteering actions are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Unlike typical cash donations solicited by most volunteer organizations, we ask for linen donations from local hotels that were planning to discard the items. We will not run out of donation sources, as there are thousands of hotels and they will continue to discard a sizable amount of linens due to daily use.

Deliveries provide a valuable experience in which students learn why sympathy is important, and how they have impacted their local community and reduced landfills.

When hotels discard their linens due to slight imperfections, it negatively impacts our environment as landfills accumulate concerningly high amounts of waste when they could’ve been put to good use. Linens N Love helps to reduce our landfills as we repurpose these linens and provide warmth to shelters.

While promoting volunteering, this organization seeks to redefine our perceptions of volunteerism by incorporating environmental awareness and social responsibility. Student leaders decided on this issue when visiting an animal shelter in 2014 for a school project and realizing that the dogs and cats were shivering through the cold winter weather.

For the past five years, students have spread the mission of Linens N Love to more volunteers as we continue to organize deliveries to various shelters, including teenage shelters, women’s shelters, veterans shelters, and animal shelters.

Linens N Love deliveries encompass two main components: packing the linens and then a guided tour. Guided shelter tours and Q&A sessions take place, providing a learning opportunity for the student volunteers to learn exactly how thousands of repurposed linens will be put to good use instead of going to landfills, and how simple actions lead to large impacts.

Students learn the importance of sympathy, which in turn translates into them taking action and stimulating new creative ideas for future service projects.

Linens N Love’s milestone of the year is the Winter Leadership Training & Summit, a youth conference organized by Linens N Love that teaches students essential leadership skills to initiate, build, and lead their own teams of volunteers.

Students will meet at the conference in late December to participate in leadership lectures, deliveries to shelters, team bonding activities, and action planning for 2020.

Linens N Love encompasses five high schools across Southern California as part of the Southern California Chapter: Valencia, Canyon, Yorba Linda, Portola, and Del Norte High School. Each school has its own unique characteristics and diversified demographics which include diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and low-income communities.

Student leaders of each of the five chapters lead weekly online conferences to plan future service events. These conferences allow for leaders to effectively plan, provide support and guidance for newer leaders, and share personal experiences by communicating with their members.

Chapter leaders improve their communication skills as they prepare themselves to lead and influence others effectively. This nonprofit organization can do a lot more for the local community due to this growing team of dedicated leaders and volunteers.

With most schools being over 20 miles apart, Linens N Love creates a network for schools near and far to unite under a common cause of volunteerism, goodwill and environmental awareness, all while being able to care for and serve their local communities.

One of the benefits of Linens N Love’s model is its geographical extent with student volunteers being located throughout Southern California, which allows them to locate and identify shelters from communities that are closer to their schools.

Linens N Love cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store.

To learn more about Linens N Love or get involved with Linens N Love, visit LinensNLove.org today or email Info@LinensNLove.org.