Well, another week has gone by in this new normal, and while I’m sure most of you have settled comfortably into your routines, let’s face it, there’s still a lot of fear and confusion out there stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. One way to keep sane right now is by helping those around you. Sometimes in anxiety-producing situations like the one we’re all in, taking action to help can really make you feel good. Along those lines, I wanted to introduce you to two organizations that are doing great things right now (and always, actually) for those in need. Both organizations are headed up by Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC) members. Perhaps you might be able to work with them on some of their initiatives, and they may be able to help you as well.

Gifting Brands, whose founder and CEO Jeannie Barsam is a WIRLC  member, is a nonprofit organization that offers a solution for enterprise retailers struggling with unused and old inventory. Here’s how it works: Brands donate inventory or gift cards to Gifting Brands and receive a tax write-off. Gifting Brands then sells the inventory, and 100 percent of the profit goes to causes that support women, children and families. Jeannie said Gifting Brands was scheduled to launch in the fall, but she has ramped up operations and is now planning to launch this month due to increased need. For more information, go to GiftingBrands.com. (Full disclosure: I am on the Advisory Board of Gifting Brands.)

Soles4Souls is a nonprofit organization that enables retailers to donate merchandise to help with excess inventory. (Nancy Youssef, chief corporate development officer for Soles4Souls, is also a WIRLC member. In addition, WIRLC is partnering with the nonprofit for the Women in Retail Leadership Summit in August.) Soles4Souls also has a program that enables people to clean out their closets and donate their gently-used shoes and clothing to its micro-enterprise program. Here, women in extremely poor countries work with Soles4Soles to set up websites to sell the items, helping them earn income to purchase food, shelter and education for their families. Soles4Soles has partnered with Zappos. To donate, all you need to do is gather your merchandise, load it into a box, go to the Zappos for Good website, print out a pre-paid shipping label, and drop it off at the nearest UPS store. For more information on all of its programs, check out Soles4Souls.org.

And speaking of the new normal, I wanted to let you know that WIRLC has launched a new video series called “Leadership in the New Normal,” which will feature interviews with executive coaches, life coaches, industry consultants, and retail marketers discussing how to lead successfully during a time of crisis such as this. We will feature one of these interviews in the Inner Circle each week. The first installment in this video series features a conversation with Elise Keith, co-founder and CEO of Lucid Meetings, who offers tips on how teams can have productive meetings during a time of crisis. I hope you enjoy the series. And if you have any ideas or speaker suggestions whom you think we can add to our roster, please let me know by dropping me a line at mcamapnelli@napco.com.

Here’s to keeping safe, being productive, and thinking positively!