International Housewares Association and Fern Expo Lend a Hand to Help Hurricane Florence Victims

September 21, 2018

Never say the trade show industry isn’t comprised of plenty of generous, kind-hearted people who are ready to lend a hand to those in need, especially in the face of natural disasters. 

Case in point, the International Housewares Association and Fern Expo, both of which recently launched relief campaigns to assist the victims of Hurricane Florence and the resulting record flooding that has devastated parts of North and South Carolina’s coastal communities.

To help provide hurricane victims with home products as they rebuild their lives and homes, IHA is partnering with Good360, an Alexandria, Va.-based organization that helps companies responsibly donate inventory to charitable organizations.

“We’re pleased to partner with Good360 and leverage the generosity of the housewares industry to help make a difference for thousands of hurricane victims,” said Phil Brandl, president and CEO of IHA, which produces the annual International Home + Housewares Show.

He continued, “Good360 is an organization with an impeccable track record of distributing needed products in a well-managed and structured way. Their corporate partners in disaster recovery include Walmart, Home Depot, IKEA, CVS and UPS.”   

IHA partnered with Good360 last year to help with the Hurricanes Harvey and Irma recovery efforts, he added.

Housewares suppliers can help the recovery effort by donating needed products to Good360, which is working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to help shelters with immediate needs including personal items, toiletries and water, as well as products to help with the clean-up. 

As victims’ needs transition to household goods over the next few weeks, any products IHA members can provide will be managed by Good360, which will deliver donations to those in need in partnership with FEMA, according to IHA officials

IHA with questions about donating product can contact Jim Alvey, Good360 director of corporate development, at jalvey@good360.orgor 703-299-7554, or visit for more information.

Meanwhile, Fern Expo is busy setting up collection sites for hurricane relief materials at most of its Midwest and Southeast locations through Sept. 28, with a goal to send trucks to the Lenoir, Jones and Craven Counties in North Carolina by the end of next week or as soon as vehicles can be safely dispatched to the area. 

The general service contractor is calling on all sides of the industry to help those in need, as it did while collecting relief materials after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year, for which it received a tremendous amount of support from communities around the U.S. resulting in the collection of enough materials to send almost a dozen 53-foot trailers.

However, this year, the response has been light so far, according to Aaron Bludworth, CEO of Fern.

“We aren’t quite sure why, though it does seem that the news coverage is much less than it was last year as political news seems to be consuming the airwaves,” Bludworth said. “This is very unfortunate, as the needs are tremendous and in many areas the water continues to rise.”

He added, “We are currently collecting through Monday, but may extend that date if we don’t see a big pick up in contributions.”

The following items can be dropped off Monday through Friday during business hours at Fern’s Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville and Nashville locations:

  • Baby food
  • Baby formula
  • Blankets (clean and new)
  • Bottled water
  • Diapers
  • Household cleaning items
  • Non-perishable food
  • Pillows
  • Towels

We are doing this because we have the assets to be able to help and there is a need,” Bludworth said. “There really is not a good reason to not get involved and help – why wouldn’t we?” 



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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.