While we believe everything behind our shiny orange doors is precious, there’s something extra special about what customer Cristal Munoz-Logothetis stores at a Public Storage in Southern California. You see, every single item will eventually be shipped off to help refugee children and families in far-away places as part of a nonprofit organization she founded a couple of years ago.
It all started in 2015, when the Los Angeles-area mother was motivated by a now-famous photograph of a very young Syrian boy lying face down on a beach, one of the many unlucky ones who didn’t survive efforts to escape the civil war in Syria. His family had been headed to the Greek island of Kos.
“When I talked to my husband’s aunt who lives (in Kos), I asked her what I could do to help,” said Munoz-Logothetis. “She said I could literally do anything and that would be helping.”
“It brought home how dire the situation was.”
So she started to collect and store baby carriers for displaced mothers living in the Middle East – many who travel several miles on foot with their children.
Nearly three years, thousands of volunteers, tons of donations and 30 trips abroad later, her nonprofit Carry the Future continues to collect a variety of donations to keep up with the needs of refugees. And the group turns to Public Storage for much-needed space along the way.
Turning to Public Storage for an Outpouring of Support
She started her effort aware that refugee mothers were crossing borders with their small children in tow in hopes of finding a new, safer home.
“I had just spent the summer in Europe by myself, and my baby carrier gave me the luxury of being able to easily navigate the streets and it freed up my hands,” said Munoz-Logothetis.
Determined to accord refugee mothers the same luxury for their dangerous journeys, her initial goal was to collect 100 baby carriers and raise $2,500. But after an interview published in the Huffington Post, her cause went viral, and she quickly raised $17,000, while a flow of donated baby carriers started showing up on her doorstep.
“Delivery trucks came, and the whole truck would be filled with boxes for me,” she said. “When one truck would leave, another one would drive up. I would go into my office, and I couldn’t see my desk because it was literally floor to ceiling with shipped boxes. It got out of control very quickly, and I realized no amount of sorting was going to allow me the space to store in my office.”
She had a great customer experience with Public Storage in the past, and set out to rent another storage unit ASAP to help.
“I was so excited that all the boxes fit into the storage unit,” said Munoz-Logothetis. “I was able to stack them up and not worry about it.”
Little did she know, the donations would eventually fill up three units of the same size at the facility.
“I always joke that if there’s a zombie apocalypse, I’m coming here and locking myself in my storage unit because I always feel safe here,” she said.
Volunteers Fill Storage Units with Sorted Supplies
On a recent weekend, volunteers with Carry the Future met at a Public Storage in Southern California, to prepare a shipment of donations for families in a refugee camp in Jordan. Some even flew in from out of state to help.
“As a parent, this cause speaks to you,” said Virginian Kate Semp while sorting a mountain of baby carriers. “And it’s so easy to do.”
The volunteers have to sort the donations in large plastic bags and tubs to abide by Jordanian customs guidelines.
After going through several of these sorting sessions successfully, Munoz-Logothetis said she is grateful for the dedicated Public Storage staff.
“They have been so friendly from day one,” she said. “Never once when volunteers have gotten lost and asked for help has the storage staff complained. Not once have they gotten mad because they had to take time out of their day to show someone to the unit.”
In addition to helping with directions, a Public Storage staff member stays with the volunteer to make sure they check in with Munoz-Logothetis.
“We take them to the unit and verify that they’re here to volunteer,” said Jerry Donahue, a Public Storage employee. “They’re a fantastic group. Always friendly and clean. The ideal customers.”
Monthly Leases Save Money
The organization saves money thanks to short-term Public Storage leases, because the volume of stockpiled donations fluctuates. Munoz-Logothetis isn’t trapped in a lease for longer than a month at a time.
“We work on a project-by-project basis and a need-by-need basis,” Munoz-Logothetis said. “When we saw kids walking around a refugee camp barefoot, we did a fundraiser for a shoe that expands in sizes and we collected 5,000 shoes. And we needed space to keep the shoes until the next shipment.”
“And then when we don’t need a storage unit for that, but maybe three months later we may need to do a different fundraiser. Like when refugees were stuck in a cold area between the Syria and Jordan border without winter clothes. We decided to collect blankets to send there.”
“That’s what so great about Public Storage,” she added. “When our needs ebb and flow, we can adjust.”
Munoz-Logothetis hopes Carry the Future expands outreach into other countries with needy families, and she plans to use Public Storage for more donations when she needs the space.
“We still have to help the biggest camp in Jordan, which has roughly one million refugees, and we haven’t tapped into the camps in Lebanon, let alone the camps in Africa and other parts of the world.”