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Believe It or Not, Duty-Free Shopping is Now Helping Kids in Haiti

Where: Haiti
October 19, 2012 at 1:33 PM | by | ()

Students receive two full meals at school.

Earlier this week, we told you how running around Zoo Miami this Saturday can help the kids of a new Haitian school, Lycée Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable. But that's not the only way to support the Hand in Hand for Haiti charity that built and runs the school. Here's another way: go duty-free shopping.

Hand in Hand for Haiti was actually founded by three heavy-hitters in the travel retail industry: DFS Group chairman and CEO ED Brennan, Estée Lauder Travel Retailing Worldwide president Olivier Bottrie and The Moodie Report founder and publisher Martin Moodie.

All three companies encourage their employees and business partners to get involved with the charity, and have successfully raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past few years to get the school in Saint-Marc up and running. If you support any of these businesses by buying duty-free goodies on your travels, you're also contributing in some small way to the cause.

You can, of course, do even more by donating to the charity directly or sponsoring a child.

The project has drawn serious attention in Haiti and we're told that visiting dignitaries are routinely flown over the school's campus to demonstrate philanthropy in action.

An aerial view of the growing Lycée Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable campus.

As for why the travel-retail industry threw themselves into this cause with gusto—essentially creating the biggest charity fund-raiser in travel-retail industry history—here's the story from co-founder Olivier Bottrie (as interviewed by cohort Martin Moodie):

My wife Alexandra is from Haiti. After the earthquake on January 12th I went to the philanthropic committee of the Estée Lauder Companies and our CEO Fabrizio Freda to ask for their financial support, which they lent to me immediately and unconditionally through a very large grant.

Third co-founder Ed Brennan adds:

Ours is an industry characterized by a spirit of competition and, in turn, a spirit of cooperation. One characteristic of travel retail is how we work so well together to solve industry problems. Now we're taking that same spirit of cooperation and applying it to the horrific situation in Haiti.

Everyone from Burberry and Bijoux Terner to LVMH and Tumi has shown their support for Hand in Hand for Haiti. The least we can do is, in turn, support these brands on our travels.

Go forth and duty-free shop and do the world some good while you're at it.

[Photos courtesy Hand in Hand for Haiti]

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