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Nonprofit opens facility in Las Vegas to aid worldly goals

Discarded hotel items such as soap and shampoo were once destined to end up in landfills. Thanks to nonprofit organization Clean the World, those items are helping to save lives.

Clean the World recycles used soap and other hygiene items and distributes them to impoverished communities around the world. The group works with more than 1,300 hotels in North America and distributes products to 47 countries, including the United States.

Clean the World partners with 23 hotels in Nevada, 17 in Las Vegas. The organization recently opened a facility in the southwest part of the valley at 3111 S. Valley View Blvd., Suite L-115.

Locals benefit from the partnership, too. Clean the World donates to the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, St. Jude’s Ranch and the Salvation Army.

At-risk students in Clark County School District also receive hygiene kits from Clean the World via the Public Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports public schools in the valley.

PEF spokeswoman Dawn Christensen said the organization initially will target about 20 schools with the highest homeless populations.

The foundation received 2,000 bars of soap and expects to receive 1,000 bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion soon, Christensen said.

“We’ve never had a huge supply of toiletry items,” Christensen said. “We have nurses that come in and stock up on these items. Kids really have a need for hygiene items.”

Young children especially benefit from proper hygiene, Clean the World spokesman Matt Gomez said.

The top two killers of children 5 or younger are acute respiratory illness and diarrheal disease, according to Clean the World. The mortality rate of those cases could be cut by 65 percent if they had regular access to soap, Gomez said.

Clean the World started in 2009 in Orlando, Fla., and has distributed more than 10 million bars of soap worldwide.

Hotels pay, on average, 65 cents per room, per month, to Clean the World. The organization trains the housekeeping staff on how to collect and sort items into bins provided by Clean the World.

Those items are shipped to a recycling center, sterilized, packaged and sent to places in need.

Clean the World’s Las Vegas facility is, at this point, a storage and shipping facility for its three recycling facilities in Orlando, Fla.; Toronto; and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Caesars Foundation donated $250,000 to help open the local facility.

Gomez said the organization plans to convert its Las Vegas facility into a full-scale recycling operation eventually, but no timeline has been established.

“Our goal is to slow down the spread of disease,” Gomez said. “Any hygiene-related illnesses are so hard to stop.”

When an earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 2010, Clean the World distributed more than 2 million bars of soap. The organization was featured on CBS News and gained a lot of attention from hotel partners.

“We just want to add (hotel) numbers,” Gomez said. “We’re at about 6 percent of the total marketplace. In three years, we’ve only hit 6 percent. We have 94 percent of opportunity in place. We’re going to do our best to get as many hotels as we can and more operational centers.

“We named the company Clean the World for a reason. We would like to help 200 countries someday.”

For more information, visit cleantheworld.org.

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at jmosier@viewnews.com or 224-5524.

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