What is the Heart of Hospitality Project (HOHP)?

The Heart of Hospitality Project enables Twin Ports hotels to make a difference in the lives of local residents by donating lightly used linens and personal care items to the Duluth-Superior-area agencies and organizations that support them every day.

How does it work?

HOHP matches participating hotels directly with local agencies or charities on a one-on-one basis, based on the needs of the latter. For example, if your hotel routinely has a surplus of gently used bed sheets, HOHP may partner you with a local shelter or assisted living facility, where bedding is often needed.

What items are needed and/or accepted?

Gently used linen and towels that no longer meet your hotel’s customer-facing standards, but are still functional, as well as previously opened tubes of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion and other personal care items that remain mostly full. All of these items are typically thrown in the trash.

What are the benefits to the Head of the Lakes/Twin Ports Community?

The Twin Ports area serves as the center of the social services support system for Northeast Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin. So many vulnerable and disadvantaged people rely on this system for the opportunity to find a safe place to stay, get cleaned up, and perhaps find a little hope. For some, it’s the first step toward a new life. We are blessed with a robust network of outstanding support organizations to assist them – but they constantly struggle to secure many of the very items so many hotels throw in the trash each day. HOHP provides an almost serendipitous solution to this challenge.

What are the benefits to my organization?

Participation in HOHP is a high-impact, high-visibility, low-cost way to pursue or complement your organization’s philanthropic, sustainability and community involvement goals. Given that the items for donation are typically thrown in the trash, the cost of the participation is mostly limited to the time required to collect the donation items and coordinate their transfer to your partner organization. From an operational standpoint, systematic diversion of these items from the waste stream may reduce waste hauling costs and environmental impact (for those who measure it).

From a marketing standpoint, HOHP’s partnerships with Head of the Lakes United Way and Visit Duluth will provide numerous platforms at program startup and throughout the year for participants to communicate the commitment to the community – and their impact on it – by participating. Hotels will also have the ability to promote their participation individually, as they see fit.


Is there a demonstrated need for this program in the community, and will it make a real difference?

HOHP has partnered with the Head of the Lakes United Way to assess the needs of local agencies. A survey was sent to local Twin Ports agencies requesting their needs for such items. 11 agencies responded with a resounding “YES!”

Who is involved?

HOHP was created by Cara Overland, general manager of the LaQuinta Inn & Suites Duluth. Cara has more than 17 years of hospitality experience – with an emphasis on sustainable hotel operations. She is trained in The Natural Step, a systems-based environmental sustainability framework, and her work with both employers and nonprofits in the past has earned The Explore Minnesota Tourism Award, the Minnesota Waste Wise Leader Award and the Lake Superior Binational Award.

As mentioned above, the Head of the Lakes United Way will act as the connector for local support organizations to HOHP, and provide marketing support. Visit Duluth will act as the hospitality industry’s liaison for the project. HOHP’s formative efforts have also been aided by Matt Olin, an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

How exactly will donation items get to the organizations that need them?

Each participating hotel will need to direct its operations staff to collect the items it wishes to donate. From there, the hotel can coordinate with its specific partner beneficiary to determine how best to directly transfer the items (delivery, pickup, etc.) There will be no central clearinghouse for items. This arrangement keeps the process as simple, streamlined and flexible as possible.

Can I choose which organization my company will partner with?

Working through our partners above, HOHP prefers prioritize partnerships based on the best matches of surplus goods to needs. This can depend on both the nature of the items, as well as the volume of items available. That said, there’s nothing to stop a hotel from requesting to work with a given partner and exploring ways to make the arrangement work to the best benefit of both parties.

Are my donations tax deductible?

Yes. Guidance regarding how to value donations and catalogue them for tax purposes is available from the Head of the Lakes United Way.

How do I sign up?

You can start the process today by letting us know you’re interested. At this early stage, HOHP is looking for some flagship hotels to join our launch taskforce. This includes helping us refine the process of matching hotels with support organizations – by participating! We’re also looking for assistance in spreading the word among our peers and generating media buzz. The goal is to launch the project with some active partnerships by early December, in conjunction with the United Way’s Holiday Day of Caring. So come join us!

If you have questions not answered above, please feel free to contact Cara Overland at heartofhospitalityproject@gmail.com or 218-428-5109.